Amy Donaldson: Timpview's fiasco means new fundraising rules for school programs

Published: Sunday, Nov. 11 2012 9:00 p.m. MST

Granite officials aren't waiting for new state rules, although they're trying to anticipate changes. They passed a new donation and fundraiser policy in July that led to tremendous criticism, especially from patrons in the Cottonwood High area. The policy prevents people who donate more than $500 to a school in a year from participating in any decision-making role in any school program. It also more clearly informs donors that anything given to a school becomes the property of the district and the donor has no control over how it is used.

Patrons of Cottonwood High protested because it meant long-time assistant football coach and big money donor Scott Cate (who paid for the school to have a turf football field, among other things) could no longer volunteer with the program.

A similar issue was handled differently at Timpview by new principal Todd McKee. He said he wanted to allow his new head coach to select his own assistants, but he required that no one work in the program as a volunteer. All assistants had to be paid, and that means they're now subject to the ethics rules and regulations as other school employees.

Horsley said Granite officials plan to revamp two other aspects of district rules. Next Tuesday they'll consider a new fundraising policy and after that they'll consider new rules for camps and clinics.

"The Timpview audit made us recognize that we wanted to make sure our schools were dealing with these issues," he said.

Horsley said the rules are critical not just because there needs to be a public accounting of money raised in support of school-affiliated programs. He said they're also meant to protect opportunities for all students.

Some worst case scenarios:

Students have to pay or raise thousands of dollars or they're unable to participate in plays or sports teams.

Students whose parents donate or volunteer receive preferential treatment.

Football or boys basketball players earn more money, so more money is spent on their camps, facilities and programs, which violates federal requirements of Title IX.

The new state rule being discussed means to give districts and charter school boards guidance on the kinds of supervision necessary. The state is also working on best practice guidelines so the expectations are no longer gray but clearly black and white.

Lear said the Utah State School Board will likely vote on the new rule this month so they can have rules in place by next school year.

"It's sort of been every man for himself," she said. "We're saying, 'Here are some state-level minimal requirements for your accounting practices. And districts want the guidance. They've been very eager to know what our model policy will look like."

Maybe the only group more anxious to know what the new rules will entail are the parents whose children will be affected by the new policies.

Email: adonaldson@desnews.com twitter: adonsports