Wheeler High principal proposes system of class dues

North Stonington - Wheeler High School/Middle School Principal Chris Sandford is proposing the end of the fundraiser in a bid to more evenly distribute the burden of senior year costs.

Instead of the various fundraisers that students and parents put on every year, Sandford said he would like to introduce a new class dues system, asking that students contribute $15 every school year beginning in sixth grade. The goal is to have paid $105 by students' senior year - covering the $16,000 needed for senior year activities like the traditional class trip to Block Island, the senior banquet and prom.

"If we don't have to do another bake sale, I'd be extremely happy," Sandford said.

With no dues system in place now, Sandford said it is a small group of students and parents who volunteer year after year to spearhead various fundraising efforts, ranging from the traditional bake sales and wrapping paper sales to candle sales, dances, and even a student matchmaking game.

"You name it, they try to do it," Sandford said.

Sandford said even now, there are five or six fundraisers going on simultaneously for the holidays. And while he doesn't think they all need to be wiped out - some provide good opportunities for students to build leadership skills, he said, such as those that help a family in need or a community center - he said a significant reduction would be beneficial for all involved.

"It just gets too crazy when there's so many of them," he said.

Sandford said he's taking a cue from other area high schools that already employ class dues. But with the combined middle school and high school in North Stonington, he said, Wheeler is in the unique position of being able to spread dues out over seven years and in small increments.

The dues would not be mandatory as per state law. But if a student opts out, he or she would be responsible during senior year to pay the full cost of any activities. And Sandford said any student suffering financial hardship can make a request for the school to cover the cost if he or she cannot afford it.

Sandford officially pitched his dues plan to the Board of Education last week, to wide support. Superintendent Peter Nero said the plan could be approved as early as the board's next meeting on Wednesday.

"The fact of the matter is their kids are hustling to raise money, and usually when that happens, it's an imposition on other families," Nero said. "I think this will take a little bit of the stress off the usual fundraising that occurs."



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