As school officials across the state begin the second budget season under the 2 percent tax levy cap, it’s no secret that money is tight. So when it comes time for schools to make improvements, who can foot the bill?
At Valley Stream South High School, the Parents Club organized a series of fundraisers and secured a few generous donations from community members. With the money, the club purchased a new electronic sign for the driveway by the school’s main entrance, a new scorer’s table for sports events and new banners for the school’s teams that are now hanging in the gymnasium.
“I feel like our school is now in the 21st century,” Principal Maureen Henry said of the new additions. “South is a very generous community, and it’s not surprising because our motto is ‘Small acts of kindness make a big difference,’ and people — not just the kids, but the adults, parents and alumni — want to be part of that.”
Parents Club Co-President Diane Winter said that the idea to fund the electronic sign was hatched two years ago, at the Central High School District’s annual facilities tour. South was the only one of the district’s four schools that did not have a message sign outside, and Parents Club members wanted to change that.
The club hosted events and collected donations from community members and local business owners to help fund the sign. Last March the group held a night of Supermarket Bingo, which, Winter said, put it over the top: It bought the sign for approximately $12,500. It was delivered in August and installed in October. The sign alerts students, parents and community members to upcoming events and offers other important information.
When funding for the sign was nearly secured, the Parents Club set its sights on refurbishing the gymnasium. It was around that time that Dan Gerstman, a member of South’s class of 1979 and a resident of Lynbrook, visited the school to watch his daughter Brooke’s basketball game. He ran into Parents Club Co-President Bill Gillespie, who was Gerstman’s teammate on South’s basketball team in the 1970s, and asked if there were any projects he could help with. As it turned out, the Parents Club was looking to purchase a new scorer’s table, and Gerstman was more than happy to help.