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School Board tightens sale rules

Elementary kids no longer can sell door to door for school fundraisers. The method is still allowed for secondary school students, though it's being discouraged. It's a safety issue.

When a 9-year-old girl was mauled last fall by a dog as she helped her brother sell candy in a school fundraiser, district officials spoke strongly about banning door-to-door fundraising.

Since then, representatives from the county's high schools have weighed in with the School Board, saying they don't want the profitable sales method outlawed.

Board member Pat Deutschman said two of the three high schools expressed concern about the proposal to ban door-to-door sales. Superintendent David Hickey also asked the board to consider changing the proposal.

On Thursday, the board changed the policy to say elementary students would not be permitted to sell items door to door. Secondary students, those in middle and high schools, would be discouraged, not prohibited, from selling door to door.

Citrus County students at all grade levels regularly sell everything from candy to gift wrap. They also sell tickets to car washes, pancake breakfasts, spaghetti dinners and a host of other events. The dollars they raise go for such needs as field trips and new athletic equipment or to keep afloat extra-curricular programs such as athletics and band.

At Thursday's workshop, board member Carol Snyder said that, for safety reasons, she did not think students should be selling door to door. However, she also was concerned about the amount of money that must be raised through such sales. She suggested that the district needed to look at its own budget "and maybe we could support more of these things" rather than having children raise the money.

She said community members she has spoken to have been concerned about the safety of door-to-door sales but also about seeing so many items sold so frequently. As taxpayers, they sometimes faced with the dilemma of not being able to afford items but not wanting to disappoint the children, Snyder said.

"They don't like to say no, but still they have to," she said.

Snyder also questioned the amount of classroom instructional time that is used to prepare students for fundraisers.

Board Chairwoman Patience Nave said she was not a fan of fundraising but she saw it as "a necessary evil" since there is never enough money to do all the things the schools want to do. She said some fundraising events, such as spaghetti dinners and pancake breakfasts, are good ideas and could be encouraged by Hickey.

Snyder agreed.

Hickey said various athletic groups need to raise funds, but he agreed to look into Snyder's question about the amount of class time used to prepare students for fundraising events.

Director of planning and development Bob Brust repeated the concerns of secondary school officials who wanted to keep the option of selling door to door. For example, students sometimes sell yearbook ads door to door at businesses or in residential areas. He noted that direct sales are often the most profitable of the fundraising methods.

Nave said she didn't want to put too many prohibitions on students and noted that some of the unique selling techniques involved young adults who are students going door to door selling pizzas.

"It was never my intent to suggest that we do away with fundraising activities," Snyder said. "I think that we do have to be careful with the nature and the number."

She suggested that the district gather the best ideas used at various schools. Brust joked that, as a former principal, he would not have wanted to share his best fundraising techniques.

"We have to be careful about limiting the scope" of allowed fundraisers, Brust said.

The proposal would change the wording that the superintendent must approve all fundraisers. Instead, principals would approve most, and the superintendent would review only those that pose extraordinary liability concerns, such as carnivals, rodeos and dunking booths.

The policy proposal is expected to have a public hearing before the board later this spring.