Criticism of proposed rules to govern fund raising in county schoolscame loud and clear from about 20 county residents at a public hearing Thursday.
A ban on door-to-door sales and on individual prizes for top sales took the heaviest fire. But speakers also told the school board they saw increased red tape and loss of individual school autonomy in the proposed policy.
The draft policy is the county school system's first effort to put formal regulations on fund raising. Its rules govern how individualschool organizations can raise money and how it can be spent.
Theboard is scheduled to vote on the document at its March 14 meeting.
Only one speaker endorsed the draft policy without reservation. Parent Robert Wallace said he had not read the policy but was "concerned with the PTA practice that uses students to market items."
Wallace applauded the committee proposal to halt fund raising for items that would give students in one school an advantage over students in another. "Every student in Howard County should have equal access to resources," he said.
In contrast, other speakers argued that band boosters should not be stopped from paying for the cost of a band trip just because bands at the county's other seven high schools are not scheduled for a similar trip.
"Please don't kill the enthusiasm forthis system with requirements for establishing equity among schools," said Charles White, chairman of the Glenelg high school band booster club's ways and means committee.
The ban on door-to-door sales -- which committee members identified as a safety issue -- won supportfrom some speakers for elementary school children, but not for middle and high school students. Several speakers urged the board to let parents set safety rules for their children who are selling items.
"The board should not impose rules on individual households," said Barbara Kendrick, representing the Howard High School band and LionetteBoosters. "We really feel that the kids will lose a lot if they're not allowed to go door-to-door, because that's a lot of their fund raising."
The board could set a time limit on door-to-door sales, perhaps banning the sales after 8 p.m., suggested Jessica Matulevich, a Howard High student and Howard County Association of Student Councilsrepresentative to the school board.
The proposed ban on individual prizes drew criticism from parents and students, who said it would reduce student enthusiasm.
"It's very difficult to maintain incentives over three weeks with a promise of ice cream," said Kathleen Maizel, president of the Dunloggin Middle School PTA, which relies on onethree-week magazine sales drive as its sole annual fund-raiser.
The Dunloggin PTA provides candy to individual top sales persons when the students turn in sales reports at intervals during the drive. "We're not tempting them with Nintendos," Maizel said. "It's something they can put in their mouths immediately."
Katie Combs, a seventh-grader at Owen Brown Middle School, said students at her school "really enjoy getting the prizes (for magazine sales). It's like Spirit Week."
The committee's reasoning, in comments accompanying the draft policy, was that students should be taught that the reward is in the goal for which money is being raised. For example, if a PTA is raising money for playground equipment, students would learn that their reward is new play equipment.