What is the goal of the Otter Fund?
Our goal is to maintain the level of support for our school that keeps View Ridge one of the top elementary schools in the district. With 100% participation in the inaugural Otter Fund we believe we can achieve that goal. Participation will look different for every family but all that is required for participation is to return the pledge card (or donate online) – whether that includes a monetary pledge, a pledge of your time, or simply that you cannot give at this time.
Why is there no auction this year?
Hosting the Auction took thousands of volunteer hours to organize, cost over $30,000 (the ticket price didn’t even cover the full cost), and could only accommodate a portion of our school community. By moving to a single fundraiser, we hope to achieve the same fundraising goals while freeing up our parent volunteers to contribute to our school in other ways.
We just gave a lot of money to the auction this spring. We’re not against giving, but we don’t want to give again in the same calendar year.
We understand. Switching from multiple fundraisers that funded different parts of the PTA budget to a single fundraiser makes the timing during this inaugural year challenging. The View Ridge PTA fiscal year runs from August 1 through July 31. In order to fund events for this school year, we have to fund raise in the fall. We understand that some families might have given generously at last spring’s auction and not ready to give again in the same calendar (tax) year. It is fine for you to pledge online now and choose to donate in the next calendar year.
In the past we also donated to Walk n’ Roll. Why aren’t we doing that again?
Parents consistently tell us that they don’t want to be asked for money all year, and using Walk n’ Roll as a fundraiser meant we asked parents to give money three different times a year. It also created confusion – Walk n’ Roll funds were used for the operating budget and Annual Appeal/Auction for supplemental staffing. With ONE fundraiser, we hope to simplify the process and provide all fundraising and budget information in one place. Instead of one outdoor fundraiser, we’re planning multiple outdoor opportunities to celebrate the kids and their contributions to View Ridge.
Otter Fund Details
How long is the campaign?
The 2019 Otter Fund campaign ends on Wednesday, November 13. You can give now in full (via check or online), commit to a specific amount per month (for any number of months), or pledge now and fulfill the donation in the next calendar year. Classrooms that submit all of their pledge cards or donations will receive a donut party for the class! The sooner cards are received, the sooner a class will eat donuts!
We will also have raffle drawings throughout the campaign for all families who turn in a pledge form or donate online. Check the Otter Know and Room Parent emails for the schedule and cut-off dates for donations.
I have multiple kids at the school. Do I need to return 1 card per kid?
As long as you write the name of each student (and their teacher), you can return one card. Each classroom that returns 100% of their cards will receive a donut party for the class. And every card returned will be entered into drawings for fun prizes like Principal for a Day, Lunch on the Roof, Box Hockey Recess and a 5th Grade Teachers vs Students Badminton Showdown.
I donated online. Do I still need to return the pledge card?
No – as long as you include the name of each student (and their teacher) on the online donation form, your family will be entered into the raffle drawings (and help earn their classroom a donut party).
Can I pledge now and donate later?
Yes. You decide how to give and when, including by spreading your donation over the school year. The Otter Fund donation site provides lots of options.
How do Matching Funds Work?
Many employers sponsor matching gift programs and will match most charitable contributions made by their employees. Some companies even match gifts made by retirees or spouses, or award money to View Ridge for your volunteer hours. The matching funds amplify your contribution, helping to support all families at the school. For more information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
What is the “$580/student” amount?
$580 per student is the amount of money the View Ridge PTA will spend per student this school year. Our goal is to be fully transparent and show the full amount required to sustain the programs and additional staff that make View Ridge an excellent elementary school.
My child is not going to attend View Ridge next year. Why should I give this year?
The Otter Fund raises money for ALL spending this year. The first $43,000 raised will fund spending for this school year – events like Boo Ridge and Pancake Breakfast, supplies and books for every classroom, 5th grade graduation, safety patrol, upkeep of technology – everything the PTA budget funds outside of funding additional staff.
Donations above that amount will be used to fund additional staff for next year. Donations by outgoing fifth grade families cover the amount paid on their behalf before their child started kindergarten. It’s paying it backwards for the librarian, counselor, technology specialist and school nurse that today’s fifth grade class benefited from as kindergartners.
What happens if we don’t raise the full budget?
View Ridge Elementary will be a great school no matter what – our community of teachers, students and parents make us great. If we fall short of our budget goals, programs and staffing positions will be adjusted or removed for the 2020-21 school year.
What happens to the funds if we surpass the monetary fundraising goal?
We set a fundraising goal to sustain programs, and surpassing that goal would mean the ability to fund more school improvements or programs for kids this school year. At the end of the year, any funds not used roll over into the next year’s PTA budget, potentially decreasing the fundraising goal for the next year.
Who decides how we spend our fundraising dollars?
You do! The View Ridge is a 501(c)(3) organization with a mission to support the students and families of View Ridge Elementary. The PTA is comprised of (a) parents who have joined online here and (b) PTA Board (those members who hold responsibilities like president, treasurer, family support chair, communications chair and legislative liaison). The PTA budget is drafted in March, reviewed by the PTA Board in April, approved by the full membership in May, and reviewed by all members once again the following October.
A majority of the PTA budget funds additional staffing positions. This year, the PTA contributed $243,000 to provide the school with a full-time librarian, a counselor, a reading specialist, and a technology instructor. Which positions we fund are chosen in close coordination with the school staff – the staff participates in a comprehensive process in February to determine which additional staff to request, then presents that request via the Building Leadership Team to the PTA for approval. Given that the school district regularly revises the school’s budget even into the summer, changes to what staff (and in what amount) will be funded often occurs well into June.
Why are event costs or staff salaries so high?
We have managed to make most events at View Ridge free using the skills of amazing volunteers and PTA resources.
The cost of additional staff is determined by the district under the terms of the collective bargaining agreement with the teachers’ union. The amount paid by the PTA includes the total cost of a staff person – including salary, benefits and substitute costs. We seek to be fully transparent with details of any item in the PTA budget. PTA Meetings are normally held on the second Tuesday of every month from 7:00 – 8:30pm in the school library and all parents are always welcome to attend. During that time, any and all budget questions are welcome. You can also contact also contact any member of the PTA Executive Committee at any time.
The PTA spends a lot of money to supplement the school budget. What does the district pay for and how is that determined?
The school district normally distributes the draft budget for the following school year in February. The View Ridge principal shares that draft at a PTA meeting in February or March. Parents can ask questions and learn about the SPS budget process at those meetings. You can also view the district budget breakdown and per student spending here.
Ways to Help Beyond Financial
I have a cool job and think some students might be interested. Can I come in and share?
Teachers love it when parents share their work or life experiences with students. Last year, we had an orthopedic researcher bring in a box of (plastic) bone models at Halloween to teach fracture healing to First Graders. Another parent survived a hurricane and had the photos to prove it. A former professional D.J. put on an excellent “D.J. Recess” just last week. Pilots, chefs, gardeners, you name it! We welcome all of your talents at school.
I have limited time to help, and can’t do anything on weekdays. Are there volunteer options that don’t involve being at the school?
Absolutely. Many PTA volunteer roles can be done solely outside of school hours. PTA school events are also a great way to make a big impact with a limited investment of time. Teachers also often have “takehome” projects and welcome parent volunteers, even if it’s only occasional. Contact our volunteer coordinators for more information and ideas.