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Cash-Strapped Drew School PTA Hosts Spring Fair

Drew Model School grocery store revenue (image courtesy Drew Model School PTA)The Drew Model School Parent Teacher Association is throwing its first Spring Fair next weekend, in hopes of closing a $22,000 funding gap.

Because of changes to local grocery stores’ policies in the last two years, donations that have come from shoppers signing up to donate a portion of their purchase to schools have almost disappeared. According to Drew PTA President Evan Thomas, grocery store donations accounted for $22,700 of the PTA’s $30,000 budget in the 2012-2013 school year.

This year, the PTA projects $495 in revenue from the two stores that it has received money from, Harris Teeter and Safeway.

A manager at Harris Teeter said their program hasn’t changed, but schools are no longer allowed to sign up shoppers on the way in, which has hamstrung participation, Thomas said. According to a manager at Safeway, the chain was just purchased, and in the lengthy negotiations over the past two years, the “program has changed some.” According to Safeway’s website, donations through its eScrip program aren’t taken from credit card purchases.

Thomas doesn’t begrudge the grocery stores, he said, but the fiscal reality of the PTA’s current budget is inescapable.

“We felt fortunate that we were able to work within the program as we were before those changes were made,” he told ARLnow.com today. “It’s just a reality of where we are, and we’re just trying to look for ways to move forward and fundraising without doing it on the backs of our families.”

The PTA has responded by hosting a Spring Fair next Saturday, May 16, to draw families to the school and raise a few thousand dollars.

Drew School (Photo via Google Maps)The fair will take place on the school’s grounds (3500 23rd Street S.) from 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. There will be foods from a variety of food trucks, a moon bounce, a cake walk game, and raffles. There will also be carnival style games, with the price of participation going to the Drew PTA.

“We’re really hoping the Spring Fair can serve as a signature event so we can have a little more certainty going into each year to allocate comfortably,” Thomas said.

The PTA has received help from its counterpart at Nottingham Elementary School in North Arlington. The Nottingham PTA has chipped in $1,500 to offset costs and provided mentorship and support — Drew is hoping to model the Spring Fair after Nottingham’s annual MayFest.

As for the drastic downturn in PTA revenue, Thomas said purchases the group has made in the past, like smartboards for classrooms and a climbing wall, will no longer be feasible. Thomas said 65 percent of Drew students are on a free or reduced lunch program. APS spokesman Frank Bellavia said it’s one of nine schools in the county that have at least 40 percent of its students receiving free or reduced lunches.

Image, top, courtesy Drew Model School PTA. Photo, bottom, via Google Maps

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