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Greencastle school board to consider named-gifts policy

January 05, 2007|by KATE S. ALEXANDER

GREENCASTLE, Pa. - Donations to the Greencastle-Antrim School District might be able to have a name tag in the future.

At the first meeting of 2007 for the Greencastle-Antrim School Board Thursday, the board entertained the idea of allowing naming rights for donors and will debate a draft policy next month.

Superintendent of Schools P. Duff Rearick said the school district takes gifts and donations all the time, but only anonymous ones.

"The issue is not the gift, but the naming rights," he explained.

The topic hit the floor after someone approached the board wanting to make a donation and have their name attached.

Unwilling to say who or what exactly prompted the discussion, Rearick said the school district does not have a policy for named gifts.

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Ginny Lays, executive director of the Greencastle-Antrim Education Foundation, said before the school district could consider accepting the gift, the school board needed to decide if it was going to start accepting named gifts. If so, she said it needs to draft a policy and develop guidelines.

"If we have naming rights, who gets the rights, for what, and for how long?" she asked the board.

Selling naming right is a common practice for nonprofit organizations, Lays said. Universities have stadiums, classrooms, benches and even bricks named after those who footed the bill.

While the practice of naming donations is established for many nonprofits, Lays said it is new territory for public school districts and comes with both benefits and risks.

Rearick said he feels the benefits of selling naming rights and allowing named donations far outweighs any consequences. The greatest challenge and risk of such a policy lies in the details, he said.

"What is worth what?" he asked. "Making a policy that answers that question, is equitable, reasonable and fair is the challenge."

Looking at the issue from the perspective of a mother, Lays said she could sympathize with the desire to protect students with strict guidelines for who and what is named.

Rearick, however, did not think naming a laboratory or microscope after its donor will affect students.

"I don't think having the names on gifts will impact kids in this high-tech society," Rearick said.

Rearick said allowing named gifts presents the opportunity to "free-up" resources which can be spent to the benefit of students.

Lays and Rearick will work together to draft the policy and present it to the board next month.

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