Grant restores most activities to Redding school budget

John Read Middle School
John Read Middle School

They’re back — at least most of them. The anonymous grant of $60,000 that was given to the Redding Elementary School PTA and the John Read Middle School PTA in July has restored most of the extracurricular clubs and activities that had been removed from the budget due to recent cuts.

The grant, which was donated from a private educational-based family foundation, has been divided equally between both PTAs.

In an email sent Wednesday, Sept. 5, to parents of students at John Read from Principal Diane Martin, the following activities will be reinstated for the 2018-19 school year: Morning Gym, School Climate, Student Council, Spring Musical, Community Outreach, School Spirit Committee, Student Communications, Art Club, Yearbook, Computer Club, School Newspaper, Debate Club, Chess Club, Video Game Club, Track Club, Math Club, Jazz Band, and Select Chorus.

The donation, which was formally accepted by all members of the Board of Education at the board meeting on Sept. 4, “allows us to begin the process of filling positions to get the clubs started,” Martin wrote in the email.

“We are able to cover all the clubs, with two exceptions — the fifth grade play won’t be running, and we can run two out of three musical ensembles,” Martin said at the meeting. “While choral and jazz band is running, strings ensemble is not running.”

The clubs that are being reinstated will have to be pro-rated because they are not currently staffed, according to Martin. “Our goal is to fill those positions and start clubs on Oct. 1 or Nov. 1, at the latest,” Martin said.

Board of Education Chairman Melinda Irwin said the board is “incredibly grateful for this gift that will reinstate critically important before and after school extracurricular activities.”

Irwin added that the scope of activities, such as the Art Club, Morning Gym and the Debate Club, “enhance the academic and physical and social well-being of the Redding students. We are just so thankful that we are able to offer these clubs.”

The only club that has been cut and will not be restored at Redding Elementary School is the Garden Club, Principal Natalie Hammond said.

School Superintendent Tom McMorran said it’s “important” for the board to recognize the “generosity” of the gift. However, he added, “the intent is a stopgap to get you through a financial situation. It is not intended, nor should it be meant, to supplant the funding the town should be considering. Generally, gifts and bequests should supplement the work we’re doing, not supplant the duty of the town to provide public funding,” he said. “It’s going to allow a middle school population to engage in these activities. They are so important to their enjoyment but also to their development of people, and we have to be mindful of this as we head into our next cycle of funding.”

Editor’s note: The new playground at Redding Elementary School is being funded with the surplus from the PTA’s annual operating budget.

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