Direct sales fundraisers in the Neosho R-5 School District will first have to be approved by the superintendent, after action this week by the board of education.

Tim Crawley, assistant superintendent for business and finance, began a lengthy discussion Monday about an original proposal for school groups and organizations to go before the school board to have their direct sales fundraisers approved before taking those into action.

Crawley said the original proposal stated that the board has previously discussed the ever-increasing direct sales type of fundraising projects for students in clubs and activities that require students to sell door-to-door, and the impact that has on the overall fundraising efforts in the school.

“While it is common for fundraising to be a part of extracurricular and co-curricular activities, the amount of sales projects have become excessive,” he said. “In an effort to rein them in, all direct sales not approved by July 1, 2014 will have to be approved by the board of education or otherwise will not be allowed.”

Crawley said efforts will be made to find alternative projects that do not involve door-to-door sales and mentioned work auctions as a way to raise funds and provide value for patrons who wish to participate without pressure.

“At least give people the opportunity to walk on by as opposed to having kids coming directly up to them,” said Brett Day, board president. “We have to do something to slow it down. It really has gotten out of control.”

Board member Jonathan Russell said, “I don’t want to be the person on the board voting against somebody’s fundraiser. I don’t see us as a group voting down somebody.”

Crawley stated that if groups need prior approval of a direct sales fundraiser, but they can do a car wash or something similar without approval, “Then I think we’ll see a lot more car washes.” He said there are currently about 25 catalogues presented each year by various school groups that ask patrons to “Buy our cookie dough, buy our gold card, buy our…”

Day objected to the discount cards being sold by students going through the crowds at school events. Crawley responded that is a situation where administration must direct groups to set up a booth or a table to allow those who want the product to come to them to make a purchase.

Crawley said administrators are now notified that someone is holding a fundraiser, but there has not been an approval process. Board member Phil Wise opined that he doesn’t believe board control is the solution.

Russell stated that they’ve talked about the issue at several meetings but have not come up with a policy. Dan Decker, superintendent, responded that if they want to do something, they need to have a policy that states that all direct sales must first receive approval. Day then entertained a motion that all direct sales must gain approval of the superintendent.

That motion was unanimously approved, with members Steven Douglas and Lynn Otey absent from the meeting.

Decker said after the meeting that the district needs to take a good look at its many fundraisers, and to be conscious of what they are asking patrons to do.

“As a district, we have a lot of need for space and room,” he said. “We’re looking at a bond issue which is asking more from the community and, I think in turn, ways that we are currently taking money or asking the community to give money through fundraisers and those kinds of things. Our kids just kind of stand there and inundate them with it. If we can scale that back a little bit to let the patron pick and choose what they do want to participate in as far as fundraisers go, I think that would be a good move on the district’s part.”

Decker said that move would show patrons that as the district asks them to contribute more through passage of the bond issue to construct a junior high school, the district is also conscious about lessening the number of kids who knock on their door.

Decker proposes placing a large whiteboard in the central office to map out what fundraisers are planned month-by-month. He said that provides an opportunity to capture a big picture view of the many fundraisers, and to ensure that several groups do not coincide with their efforts.

He said a form will be created and groups will apply for their fundraisers.

“And give a description of what it’s going to be and what it is going to entail,” Decker said. “At that point, we’ll make the decision on whether it fits the criteria that we set forth, or that it does not.”

Day said the point is not eliminating direct sales, “but there’s a bunch of them right now and we really need to see if we can cut back on them a little bit and maybe turn those into different kinds of fundraisers, where again, patrons have a choice.” Day concluded, “I think it will benefit the district as well as the patrons.”