PCEF 4 kids is calling u
Ask parents how many texts and phone calls their teenagers make, and they will likely give the number in dollars. With the ocean of emoticons rippling through the air waves, they say, it’s a wonder people don’t get struck with escaping dollar signs. But if telephones are a source of generational tension, they are also a source of amusement.
Kids invent acronyms, "prw" for "parents are watching," send flowers and even draw cartoons.
Grownups use the phone for more pragmatic purposes, but their calls are no less a numbers game. This year, that number is $180, a dollar for every day most students spend in class. The Park City Education Foundation’s annual phone-a-thon runs from Monday through Wednesday. About 20 eager parents will ring hundreds of households to ask for donations for elementary arts and music, after-school enrichment programs and a college admission counselor for kids.
If every parent donated a dollar per day, organizers say, the Park City Education Foundation could infuse $750,000 into seven neighborhood schools and reach 4,400 students. They want to provide homework help for at-risk kids and more outlets for high achievers.
"The needs of gifted students are as special as kids who might have learning disabilities," Abbey McNulty, executive director, said. "Mainstreaming gifted kids is not to their advantage."
Programs for gifted and talented kids are just one item on a wish list that McNulty hopes to fund. After school pilot programs, like the one offered at McPolin Elementary School, are also on the list along with affordable housing for the district’s superintendent, grants for teachers and an expansion of the International Baccalaureate program.
"Utah is 51st in the nation when it comes to funding students," McNulty said. "With private money we can help schools do things they couldn’t do otherwise. We are a world-class community. Our kids deserve a world-class education."
The district aims to be one of the top in the country, she added.
Sally Tauber has kids at Park City High School and Ecker International Middle School. They kids may be too old to benefit from some programs, such as all-day kindergarten, but she still volunteers for the phone-a-thon. "It’s not just about my kids," she demurred. "It’s about the community. It’s always great to take education to a higher level."
One of Tauber’s top priorities is more foreign languages in school. She said her kids and their peers are taking more years of Spanish, French and Chinese, than their predecessors thanks, in part, to the education foundation.
At the same time, parents say, it is difficult for schools to develop arts and language programs without seed money. Shirin Spangenberg, a newcomer to the phone-a-thon, said she chose to volunteer with the foundation because "they have the big picture in mind."
So far, parents aren’t cutting back on donations, and the organization expects to raise about $200,000. "We have not seen a hit in the community’s generosity because of the economy," McNulty said. "When times get tight, people get conservative and education becomes even more important."
The amount parents choose to give varies and is hard to predict. "It’s all over the board," Tauber said. In five years of making calls, she talks to parents who donate big and small. "Just when you think they won’t give anything, they’ll send a check for $1,500."
Organizers emphasized the idea that even small gifts make a big different. "We know not everyone can afford [$1,500]," Tauber said. "But $10 or $20 can make a big difference."
For more information on how to donate or get involved, visit http://www.pcef4kids.org or call 615-0235.
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