Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Teachers and Union donate 12k to Pontiac School Children for school supplies

Michigan teachers donate supplies to Pontiac schools

Pontiac schools’ faculty members are elated with the support they received from fellow teachers across Michigan, who donated $12,000 in cash and gift cards and a truckload of supplies for classrooms in the struggling district.

Teachers picked up their supplies at the United Auto Workers Local 653 building in Pontiac where they were delivered Saturday after a campaign organized by the Michigan Education Association.

“I have been overwhelmed with the generosity of teachers and support staff across the state,” said Aimee McKeever, president of the Pontiac teachers union.

“It is sad that cuts have put us in this situation,” said McKeever, referring to the district’s $26 million deficit, which she blames, in part, on previous administrators.
The $12,000 in gifts will be used to purchase what other supplies teachers need and to ensure there is paper and toner available the six schools that have a working copy machine, she said.

Teachers who don’t have access to a copy machine will continue to be welcome to use the equipment at the MEA offices in Bloomfield Hills, McKeever said.

“Words cannot express my appreciation for these desperately needed classroom supplies.”

Cynthia Rush, a teacher at Pontiac’s WHRC Elementary and a PEA member, said: “It is very heartwarming that so many people have donated so much for our district despite our economic situation.”

Whitman Elementary School teacher Linda Puas added: “This is so sad and yet so heartwarming. You really feel not alone.”

Doug Pratt, MEA spokesman said in a press release Monday: “Since the beginning of the school year, Pontiac teachers have been paying out of pocket for learning essentials that the school district cannot afford — paper, writing utensils, copying supplies and more.
“These out-of-pocket expenses come at a time when staff in Pontiac, like many school employees across the state, have experienced severe wage and benefit reductions, while paying significantly more for their retirement benefits,” Pratt said.

Donations also came from other supporters, such the local UAW and its president, Michael Warchuck, which donated the hall and $900, and the UAW International for collecting the donations and providing a trailer to transport the supplies.

Others that donated included Wally Edgar of Wally Edgar Chevrolet Dealership; the Troy Education Association — teacher volunteers and $2,000; and Staples and manager Travis Jones.

“It takes a village to raise a child, and school employees help do that job every day,” said MEA Secretary-Treasurer Richard Trainor said.

“By making these generous contributions, teachers and support staff have gone above and beyond the call of duty to ensure Pontiac kids have the basic supplies they need in their classrooms.

“But supply drives and donations can only go so far. Our state’s elected leaders must do their part and adequately fund our kids’ schools, so that every Michigan child can get the good education they need and deserve,” said Trainor.

In 2011-12, public education in Michigan suffered a $1 billion cut in funding, equating to a $470 reduction in per pupil spending — “all to help pay for a $1.8 billion tax break for corporate special interests pushed by Gov. Rick Snyder and his Republican legislative allies,” said Pratt in the news release.

Contact staff writer Diana Dillaber Murray at 248-745-4638 or diana.dillaber@oakpress.com.