In the days surrounding a well-attended fundraiser at Mount View High School for a community member, rumors were circulating that Regional School Unit 3 will be limiting fundraising there to school-affiliated groups only.

It is estimated that 1,000 people went to a benefit dinner at the school April 1 for Knox resident Clayton Larrabee, who donated athletic fields to the town, started its Booster Club, raised money for a scoreboard for the school district, and is now facing high medical expenses.

“If they start telling people they can't use that building for that purpose, that's going to be a huge conflict for the community,” Karen York of Knox Booster Club said April 3. “We don't have a lot of places to do things like that.”

She mentioned that such a policy would also affect the B.U.M. League, a basketball program for third- through sixth-graders, which plays in the Mount View complex gym but is not a school organization.

“They play games all winter, and they fundraise at those games to pay for uniforms, equipment, their travel teams,” York said. “If they are turned away, they will have no place to raise money. It would wipe out that program, and it’s a fabulous program.”

A draft of a new student fundraising policy was first read at the Feb. 27 school board meeting among several others the policy committee had revised.

Superintendent Paul Austin said the draft policy came from Maine School Management Association and said it was not intended to target outside organizations.

“There’s a lot of assumption being made that B.U.M. League is not going to be able to fundraise,” he said by phone March 31. “That was not the intent of the policy, the intent was to adjust how students fundraise.”

The Republican Journal received forwarded messages from Monica Furrow, who runs the B.U.M. League, to RSU 3 residents urging them to attend the April 10 school board meeting to oppose the new policy.

Austin said that because of community concerns, he removed the student fundraising policy from the agenda of the April 10 meeting and sent it back to the policy committee for review.

The three school board members on the policy committee who were present at the Feb. 8 committee meeting when the student fundraising policy was discussed declined to comment and referred questions back to the superintendent.

The current student fundraising policy set in 1986 is a half-page in length. It requires principal approval for student fundraising activities, prohibits the sale of supplies in classrooms for fundraising, and limits parent-teacher organizations to one fundraiser per year involving students in grades K-6.

The draft policy read at the Feb. 27 board meeting sets 3 1/2 pages of new guidelines and applies to any student fundraising for student organizations, nonprofits and parent-teacher organizations. The policy states that the first set of guidelines for student organizations also applies to fundraising for "other purposes."

The Republican Journal obtained a copy of the sample policy provided by Maine School Management Association. The district's version made three changes to that policy. First, it narrows a guideline so that fundraising activities must benefit student organizations, not simply students. MSMA's version reads: "There must be sufficient educational or financial benefits to the school and/or students to justify the fundraising activity." RSU 3's version replaces "students" with "student organizations" in that sentence.

Second, the RSU 3 version added the specification that any humanitarian or charitable organizations for which students raise funds must have nonprofit status with the Internal Revenue Service.

And third, RSU 3's version requires that parent teacher organizations, boosters, and other parent groups coordinate fundraising activities with the building administration, while the MSMA version encourages that coordination.

Other notable new guidelines in both versions include the requirements that fundraising for humanitarian or charitable organizations must be sponsored by a “recognized school club or organization,” and that parent-teacher groups must get principal approval to involve students in fundraising.

The draft policy can be read at the link below.

Editor's note: The Maine School Management Association sample student fundraising policy was received after the print deadline. The story has been updated from the print version.