October 4, 2023

La Ronge Northerner

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Foundations to meet funding shortfalls for schools

Foundations to meet funding shortfalls for schools

Their money is used to buy books, redevelop schools or provide scholarships: there are many foundations associated with schools in Quebec. But defining their scope and impact on educational inequalities is difficult.

Some give out $75,000 a year in charitable receipts, while others struggle to raise a tenth of that amount. The foundations associated with schools – when there is one – are very uneven.

The Saint-Barthélemy Elementary School Foundation, for example, collects a maximum of $6,000 annually, which is used to improve the lives of students by purchasing books or funding occasional activities.

Photo by Dominic Gravel, The Press

Ricardo Santos, Amel Yaloui and Simon LeBland during a fundraising event for Saint-Barthélemy Primary School

“Schools have a certain budget to buy books, but it’s not enough,” says Ricardo Santos, president of the school’s foundation in Villeray, Montreal. “Last year, we bought the games so the teachers didn’t have to pay out of pocket,” he continues.

To replenish the treasury, the foundation organizes several activities every year, including the sale of maple products. “We collect really small amounts, we don’t have donations from big companies,” says Mr. Santos. Donations are offered for $20 or $40.

Others juggle very different budgets. The Saint-Clément-Ouest Elementary School Foundation in Mount Royal aims to raise $50,000 this year, according to its website.

“It’s full fog”

The lack of statistics on these foundations is “very problematic,” says Sylvain Lefebvre, a professor at the University of Quebec in Montreal (UQAM) and a researcher at FILP, a research network on philanthropy.

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“I’ve never seen the figures on what it represents in terms of funding, either in terms of school revenue or total endowments: it’s a total fog,” Mr. Lefebvre laments.

These foundations “play very important roles”, Mr. Lefevre continues, saying that this “raises the question of disparities between schools.”

The Ministry of Education does not know how many foundations are in its public network, any more than the Federation of School Service Centers or the Federation of Quebec School Directors.

So you have to go back to the Canada Revenue Agency, where they are registered, but among the hundreds of Quebec foundations with “school” in their name, there are dance or entrepreneurship schools and public schools and private schools.

For a school, the money will be used to buy musical instruments that go beyond the recorder. Elsewhere, it is the realization of an outclass, school fee-paying underprivileged student.

Among the programs it wants to fund this year, the Saint-Clément Elementary School Foundation lists on its website: “Special educators to resolve healthy conflicts and support students at risk or adaptation or learning difficulties.

Can a school fund hire professionals? At Marguerite-Borgeoys School Service Center (CSSMB), we are advised of the legal framework governing bodies must follow before accepting donations.

However, in some places, trusts are run by parents or directors who sit on the executive committee responsible for deciding whether or not a donation is allowed. Pres.

“Inadequate Public Funding”

Schools, parents and trusts are “trying to do better”, says Professor Sylvain Lefebvre.

The professor recalled that trusts solicited money from parents and their administrators often had too much time or “address books for fundraising”.

What’s more, the professor adds, “there’s always public money behind philanthropy through tax incentives.”

On the website of the International School of Montreal (which is part of the Montreal School Service Centre), it is explained that the foundation exists because “public funding [l’]The school is not big enough to meet all the needs of our children.

Genevieve Perron, treasurer of the foundation of the International School of Montreal, where we raise about $10,000 a year, explains that it’s not a question of “changing the school service center.”

“There are things our foundation wants to do because there are deficiencies at many levels, but we cannot because the service center prevents us from doing so,” says Ms.me Peron.

A few years ago, he says, the foundation wanted to renovate the student room “in a state of disrepair,” but was unable to do so according to rules established by the school’s service center.

Photo by Dominic Gravel, The Press

Many came to support the Saint-Barthélemy school.

At the foundation of Saint-Barthélemy Primary School, we also say that our mission is not to compensate for the failures of public schools.

Yet last year, we considered raising funds to replace the century-old school’s “rather obsolete” ventilation system, an idea that was quickly shelved. “The budget was astronomical,” recalls Ricardo Santos.

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Foundations parallel to schools raise the question of government withdrawal, says Sylvain Lefebvre.

“We have schools that, by tinkering, get money from parents and get it from two or three companies. Are we not changing the dynamics that should be acceptable? Parents are also asking themselves a question: why are we doing this? “explains the professor.

At the foundation of the Saint-Barthélemy school, we note that if we help better equip one class per year, “it’s only one class out of 34.”

“We know that there are passionate teachers who do not hesitate to reach into their pockets to help students, and we intervene to help the children’s crying needs. This tells me about the public school: we need to help teachers and provide them with better support,” concludes Amel Yalavy, vice president of the foundation.