Do School Fees and Fundraising Contribute to Social Exclusion/Inclusion?
Penelope M. Rowe and Charmaine Davidge
Summary: Schools face considerable pressure to generate revenue to supplement allocations from government to deliver programs and services for students. Schools are turning to families and students to offset educational, curricular and extra curricular costs through fundraising events or by the levying fixed fees or occasional charges.
This paper explores issues related to the demands for students and families to meet the costs of school and extracurricular activities. It reviews the range of charges and costs families may encounter throughout the school year, such as school supplies, administrative charges and curriculum supplies, school activities, expenses related to school leaving ceremonies and ”pizza days”. It explores the extent and administration of school charges and fundraising activities in one public school system in Newfoundland and Labrador (63 schools ranging from elementary, intermediate, high schools and multi grade schools) and how implementation and practices may vary from school to school within the same school board. The research, being conducted with the cooperation of the school board, includes survey questionnaires, interviews and discussion groups with administrators, teachers, parents and youth. The researchers will review responses from each of these groups to assess the variation in responses amongst groups, within and amongst schools and within the school district. From the analysis the researchers will consider how these financial obligations may bear upon the exclusion of some students and the implications (both formal and informal) for making schools more socially inclusive.
Penelope M. Rowe is CEO of the Community Services Council of Newfoundland and Labrador, a social development, research, policy and service organization and the sponsor of Expanding Their Universe, Reshaping the Future. The project explores issues around social inclusion/exclusion in the lives of school-aged children and their families. She is also Director of the Values Added Community University Research Alliance.
Charmaine Davidge is Project Coordinator and Researcher with Expanding Their Universe, Reshaping the Future.
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