If the non-profit advocacy group Social Planning Toronto were to have its way, bake sales and pizza lunches in public schools would be no more.
In a report released this fall, Social Planning Toronto calls for a ban on fundraising because it creates unequal opportunities for schools located in affluent neighbourhoods compared to schools in low-income areas. The Toronto District School Board (TDSB) should pool money and distribute it equally among all schools, the group says.
But Cathy Dandy, the TDSB trustee for Ward 15/Toronto-Danforth, doesn’t think a ban is the answer. She says there’s a larger issue at play.
“You can’t stop parents from donating,” Dandy said. “The bigger problem is what are funds being raised for and what the Ontario Ministry of Education allows fundraising to be spent on.”
The ministry needs to sit down and figure out what resources are required to deliver all aspects of the curriculum effectively, she says. Once this is determined, she added, it should be mandated.
“The government spends a lot of time setting standards and expectations for school boards, but they haven’t set standards for themselves, in terms of what constitutes public education,” she said. “We don’t get enough money for textbooks, musical instruments and field trips. Schools and parents are forced to pick up the slack.”
Nazerah Shaikh, school council chair at Gateway Public School on Gateway Boulevard, doesn’t think fundraising should be banned. Shaikh’s daughter is a Grade 2 student at the school, which is located in Flemingdon Park. But she added that there should be a cap on how much schools can fundraise. If schools exceed the amount, then that money should be pooled equally.
“It’s an equity issue. When we give, we give from our hearts,” Shaikh said. “But at the end of the day, when you’re comparing a school in the Flemingdon area versus a school in Forest Hill area, there’s a big difference in funds raised.”
Schools that are in high-income areas will get a lot more private funding, whereas those in marginalized or immigrant areas aren’t going to be able to access similar resources, she said.