Monday, September 24, 2012

Depending on the Kindness of Stangers ...

Iron Mountain donated what was literally a mountain of school supplies to Pottstown schools this year. In this
photo, they were assembled at Lincoln Elementary for distribution.

... OK, well maybe not strangers per se, but I have always loved the way Blanche duBois delivers that line in "Streetcar Named Desire."

Fourth grader Keshanna Brown with her new dictionary,
courtesy of the Pottstown Rotary Club
Anyway, to the subject at hand: The kindness at the center of today's post is directed at the Pottstown School District.

Laboring under a dwindling tax base, an odious property tax rate and a large low-income population, Pottstown's schools now enter the new year with an ever-increasing series of cuts with which they must contend.

One way those budget holes are being plugged is through donations from an impressive array of partners.

At the close of the Sept. 6 school board meeting, public relations magnate John Armato handed me a list outlining many of those donations.

Allow me to share it here:
Dr. Niraj Patel has been making donations for more than 5 years.
Edgewood Principal Calista Boyer, right, with donations from
Exelon Women in Nuclear.
  • Costco -- 450 student backpacks distributed to all Pottstown first and second graders.
  • Target -- $2,000 grant to support the PEAK Family Reading Program.
  • Maryann Lippert and the Pottstown Memorial Medical Center Employees -- A backpack and school supply donation to Frankliin Elementary School.
  • Carol Royce and Ursinus Professor Victor Tortelli -- A donation of 20 hand calculators to Pottstown High School for use in the Science in Motion program.
  • Lagasse Sweet -- 300 bookbags and school supplies to Barth Elementary School.
  • Target -- Learning packs to each kindergarten student at Franklin Elementary School and a $500 donation for library books.
  • The Pottstown Rotary Club -- A donation of a Webster Dictionary for each fourth grader in the Pottstown School District.
  • Mr. and Mrs. George Jackson and Mr. and Mrs. Jeff Sparagana -- 25 magazine subscriptions to be used at Parent Literacy Night programs
  • Iron Mountain -- A donation of 50 boxes of school supplies to Pottstown elementary schools.
  • Niraj Patel -- Five years of support, this year supporting the technology department.
  • Exelon Women in Nuclear -- School supplies to Edgewood Elementary School.

Rupert Elementary students with their new backpacks,
courtesy of Costco. Starting in the front with the green/grey
backpack, and moving around the table to the right are:
Connor Cobb, Anthony Silva, Sophia Russo, Anthony Peterson,
Kamarah Jones, Talia Jones, Gianna Allen, Moniyah Person
Needless to say, the donations are appreciated by the staff and the students in Pottstown.

But what's also a pleasure to see is the satisfaction the donation brings to the givers, at least judging from an e-mail Mr. Armato shared with the Digital Notebook staff:

"John – I wanted to provide you with a final update. I am thrilled to share with you that the Iron Mountain employees in Collegeville and Royersford blew our initial goal of 50 boxes away and collected 101 boxes full of great supplies!" -- This from an employee at Iron Mountain.

Of course this raises a broader question: How sustainable is this model?

Certainly, the upside of these tough times for schools is the knowledge that many in the community, particularly many businesses in the community, recognize that what these schools do has value.

The downside of course is that there is no guarantee such largess will be there next year, or the year after.

This is a heart-felt and generous impulse on the part of those making the donations, but it is not a permanent solution. Until schools are funded fairly, Pottstown math students will rely on the kindness Carol Royce and Victor Tortelli for their calculators.

The students from Lower Merion and other more affluent districts, against whom Pottstown students will compete for jobs and scholarships, will have calculators whether they are donated or not.

How is that fair?

1 comment:

  1. It is a shame that all the positive work being done on behalf of Pottstown students deflects the energy necessary to actually accomplish true parity with other schools which have taxing superioriority. I believe in helping hands but we must expend maximum energy on changing the root cause of Pottstown's problems, which is, unjust property taxation to fund education. Our energies must not be deflected.