Vanity plates to promote local schools Mount Airy parents spearhead plan to raise money; 1-room schoolhouse is logo; Supporters would pay $500, $100 or $40 each for license tags


It started when a few people on the Carroll side of Mount Airy noticed some Maryland license plates that commemorated Frederick County schools.

So Margaret Potito and Carole Carr, two Mount Airy parents, looked into it and found they could do the same for Carroll County, and raise up to $400,000 for computer technology for schools in the county.

They're taking names from people who want to sign up for a commemorative license plate issued by the state Motor Vehicle Administration.

The tags will have the Carroll County Schools logo -- a red one-room schoolhouse with a flag -- and the letters QS, for "quality schools" or "quality students." Each plate will have a four-digit number, from 0001 up.

If they sell all 10,000 plates that the MVA will make available, the parents could raise $426,000, said school board member Ann M. Ballard, who is working with them and signing up businesses and school administrators.

The commemorative plates will sell for $500, $100 or $40 each.

"This is something where you can really come out and say, 'I support education,' " Ballard said.

Potito said the money for technology is sorely needed.

"No matter how much they have in the budget, it's never enough," she said. "The cost is astronomical."

To sign up for numbers 0001 to 0050, a person must contribute $500 above the $15 plate charge by MVA. Ballard, fellow board member Carolyn Scott and Superintendent Brian Lockard are PTC among the $500 contributors. Mount Airy businessman Larry Van Sant reserved two of them.

To sign up for 0051 through 0100, the charge is $100. And for numbers beyond 0100, the contribution is $40.

The money goes into a fund to be administered by a committee of parents and others. Individual schools can apply for the technology money.

Several colleges and alumni groups, as well as other nonprofit organizations and clubs have gotten commemorative plates through the MVA. All it takes is proof of nonprofit status, a minimum order of 25, and a camera-ready logo, which is later silk-screened on by state prison workers in Jessup.

The Frederick County public school system was the first to ask for its own plates in Maryland, although it is done in other states. Florida has done it for years, Ballard said.

Frederick County real estate developer Candace Ausherman, who has three children in schools in Middletown, came up with the idea as a creative way to raise money for schools.

That county's plates were on cars by April this year. To date, Frederick schools have raised almost $10,000, and sold about 275 plates, 11 of them at the premium $500 donation. The rest were sold at $40, Ausherman said.

"I'm hoping every county will do this down the road," said Ausherman, who has solicited support from fellow businesses. She got one builder to buy eight plates for eight of his trucks.

"The plate shows you are a friend to education," she said.

Pub Date: 8/15/96

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