Updated– Motion: 20th Anniversary Celebration Funding


The motion failed, with 16 votes opposed and 12 votes in favor.



Per the PTO Bylaws, we are opening a 30-day comment period on the following motion:

We propose up to a maximum of $10,000 towards the 21st Anniversary Celebration.

The Honey Creek 20th Anniversary Celebration will be on Saturday, May 21, 2016.

Please comment below…

…or contact an Anniversary Celebration Committee Member with your thoughts and questions:

Simone Jenkins
Tammy Hall
Jean Steppe
Mary Bassett
Shellee Almquist
Sue Kirkup

Benefits for 21st Celebration

By having every Honey Creek entity looking to the 21st celebration and pooling our resources, our goal is to make this an event for EVERYONE to enjoy and benefit from.  We see these positive outcomes as potentially very powerful for our community.

  • The Board – Potential new members

  • Foundation – Potential new revenue sources and board members

  • Teachers – Reconnection with alumni and celebration.  Potential resource pool for like skills and class education

  • PTO – Potential new members and new support resources – lunch with an expert, garden help, etc etc

  • Administration – Celebration of everyone’s achievements and new resources

  • Current Students – seeing the future

  • Current Families – seeing the future and connection with our “whole” community

  • Alumni – reconnection and celebration with the community they “started out with” and celebrating where they are now.

Budget Options for 21st Celebration

Anniversary Celebration Budget Options

View as spreadsheet



Filed under Announcements, Events News, Items For Review

34 responses to “Updated– Motion: 20th Anniversary Celebration Funding

  1. Karen Andrews

    I support this motion, as the anniversary celebration will not only allow us to celebrate our history but create an alumni database and community goodwill which will facilitate sustainability for the school through increased awareness and funding potential.


  2. Bruce Worden

    Sounds like fun. If this is the best way to spend that much money, then I’m for it.


  3. Johnny

    I think this sounds like an amazing event and I’m all for it! Thank you to all who’ve worked so hard on planning it!! My only comment on the spending would be that it’s not worth the $1500 for mailings. Between social media, e-mail and word of mouth it seems that we could reach everyone…


  4. amynb2008

    I don’t feel like this is the most appropriate thing on which to spend so much money. I am all for creating events that celebrate our history and culture but, to me, that hardly warrants a $10,000 price tag. This is my 10th year as a parent here and this was the first time that parents were asked to donate school supplies. While, I don’t feel that this is out of the realm of things parents are capable of helping with, it begs the question of what else the school/teachers can’t afford to provide for our children. What things are missing from our children’s classrooms that are necessary to maximize learning? We are now a school who can no longer afford a media specialist. While, I certainly don’t believe that the PTO is responsible for filling that gap, this fact should make it painfully obviously that there are other needs to be met. Perhaps funds would be better spent on plugging the holes in curriculum needs rather than on a large scale celebration. Certainly there are more affordable ways to build an alumni data base. I recognize the need to reach out to our alumni and the community as a whole but not at the expense of the more immediate needs of our students.


  5. Alex Foulis

    While I enjoy a good party as much as the next person, I am extremely concerned about the proposed expenditure of up to $10,000 on such an event. According to the newsletter we recently received, the school is operating with a $50,000 deficit. Despite this, the board hopes to give teachers a raise and hire another principal to assist in curriculum alignment and teacher support. While I understand it is still the subject of negotiation, the WISD proposes increasing our rent by $30,000 each of the next two years. To spend $10,000 on a party while being unable to fund such necessities seems irresponsible at best.

    My children have been students at Honey Creek since 2005 and we have weathered many financial crises, through parental support, donations of labor, time and money and consistently under paying our teaching staff. We currently have no media specialist, further burdening classroom teachers and instructional assistants to plug the gap.

    What else could $10,000 fund if the PTO has this much money available to support the school? An almost full-time instructional assistant to support teachers and give struggling students more small group and one-on-one attention? A cart containing 20 chromebooks to facilitate and support student learning? I’m sure we could all come up with many other ideas of what $10,000 could do to promote student success.

    I understand the need to court future donors and supporters, be they alumni, parents, corporate donors or foundations. However if I fell into one of those categories (and I do), I would like to see how the school is changing the lives of the students it serves, rather than a fun filled day with children jumping on inflatables and eating ice cream. As an existing donor and supporter of both the PTO and Foundation I would seriously consider whether my donations and time are well spent.


  6. Lili Boggess

    I agree with the concerns expressed above, and would like to see those $10,000 spent on the current school needs we are all aware of including raises for the teachers, and on our technology needs.
    Would you guys consider still having the cellebration and pitching it as “come and support the school as we celebrate our 20th year aniversary…. “. I would propose charging to come to the party, which would pay for the celebration itself, and hopefully even get new funding for the PTO and the school. That is the message we want to give anyway. I believe the alumni and past supporters of the school we want to reconnect with, wouldn’t mind to pay to attend such a wonderful cellebration, meet the people they have not seen in a long time, and have a chance to support their beloved school. Just a thought….


  7. Thank you PTO for all of your amazing work! I think your notion to celebrate Honey Creek in this way is an opportunity to engage prospective donors, while honoring all parties involved.

    That said, I also have concerns about spending that much money while funding is so tight right now for our school. It sounds like there are well thought-out benefits to the celebration; HOWEVER, sometimes (I’ve worked in fundraising for some time) it takes money to raise money – whether the event is a paid event or free one.

    Perhaps moving forward, with the intention to create an event where we can make back the money spent and potentially double or triple it? I wonder if the messaging for this kind of event can surround the need to “Protect Honey Creek for the Next 20 years” So, we get parents, alumni and community members impacted by HC – to really step forward to take an active leadership role in providing support.


  8. Karen Andrews

    This is great discussion! We should also be discussing the large amount of funds (approx. $50k) tied up in SCRIP inventory and cash sitting unused in the bank account. Putting this money to work immediately instead of preserving it for SCRIP, a program that makes less than $4k per year, is worthy of discussion.


    • Alex Foulis

      Yes but that would be an entirely different discussion. This is probably not the time or place but since it has been raised, I don’t believe there is $50,000 sitting around in scrip stock at any one time, or ever has been so this comment is misleading. The best way to reduce the scrip stock is to buy it! If you don’t want to sell scrip, we would need to find another way to raise $4,000. This is something that needs to be discussed at the PTO and voted on, not decided outside meetings and imposed upon those doing the work selling it. Selling scrip online is something we have been trying to do since approx. 2008 and people apparently are not very interested.

      Excess cash could be used to raise more funds or donated to the school, but having money in the bank is not necessarily a good reason to spend it on a party.

      I do appreciate the opportunity to have this discussion especially since I, and the other approximately 7 other staff members who are also parents cannot attend PTO meetings in school time or vote.


      • Karen Andrews

        Great perspective and helpful discussion! I am wondering how the recent $23K investment in SCRIP inventory didn’t require a vote, as it exceeds the $10k threshold expense.

        It would be helpful to have a financial report detailing the exact value of SCRIP cards on hand and the cash in reserves, including what is held for future planned SCRIP purchases. Based on what has been shared at the last two meetings, my understanding is the figure is in excess of $50k.

        SCRIP may be purchased on line without the requisite inventory investment.


        • Catie Wells

          The SCRIP investment was voted on as part of the 2015-2016 Budget vote, at the October meeting. The Anniversary Celebration budget motion is separate because it was not included as a part of the 2015-2016 budget.

          Here is the section from the bylaws that addresses it:

          ARTICLE VI

          Section 1. The officers shall present to the membership at the first regular meeting of the year a proposed budget of anticipated revenue and expenses for the year. There will be a period for public comment that equals the time interval between the first and second regular meeting of the year before approval by membership. This budget shall be used to guide the activities of the members during the year. Any substantial deviation from the budget of greater than or equal to $1000 is subject to approval by the membership after a period for public comment equal to the time interval between the regular monthly PTO meetings.


          • Catie Wells

            On a separate and personal note (e.g., not as the web person), I think we should separate the discussion of SCRIP from the discussion of the 21st Anniversary Celebration.

            Both discussions are important, but neither is getting what it deserves by being grouped here. I’d much rather have a full conversation about each -and reach a solid resolution- than partial conversations that leave many confused, frustrated, and feeling unresolved.


        • Mary Edlund

          As the current PTO Treasurer I thought I would provide some information to hopefully clarify some of the discussion surrounding the balance in the PTO bank account and the effect that the Scrip program and carrying Scrip inventory has on the balance. This comment section was intended for discussion about the Anniversary Celebration and I don’t feel this is the best place for this but I do feel that I need to clear some things up. Some of these points have already been mentioned by others but I think they’re worth repeating.

          As of October 31 the PTO bank account balance was $36,397.14. Our Scrip card inventory at that time was $16,970. Thus, if all Scrip inventory had been sold our bank account balance would have been $53,367.14. Hypothetically, if we had successfully transitioned to an online-only purchase Scrip plan and we maintained a minimum balance of $10,000 I our account (just picking a number I’m comfortable with for discussion here) this would leave roughly $43,000 in “excess” funds available to use as the HC Community best sees fit.

          There are benefits and concerns to consider when discussing making a transition to an online-only Scrip program at Honey Creek. I feel that the benefits include:
          1) no need to maintain a physical stock of Scrip cards and the potential risk that entails
          2) no funds tied up in Scrip inventory
          My concerns about transitioning to on-line only Scrip purchasing include:
          1) HC Scrip coordinators have been trying for years to encourage the HC Community to shift to making their Scrip purchases online but have had very little success in doing so. In spite of the fact that Chrome Books have been set up and assistance has been offered for people to switch ONLY 3 FAMILIES HAVE SIGNED UP THIS YEAR (and mine was one of them). In that regard, the online-scrip transition has not been successful so far.
          2) last year scrip sales were approximately $4,000 and were the single largest “standard” source of income for the PTO. I consider Scrip, bagel sales, community rewards, box tops, CPK and Learning Express fundraisers as our current “standard” sources of income. I am concerned about the PTO’s ability to cover its expenses moving forward if we were to carry the minimum balance I mentioned above AND experience a loss in Scrip sales because of the transition to online-only purchasing.

          I don’t know that a transition to online-only sales would cause a loss in Scrip sales income. Sales might not drop at all or they might drop substantially. I don’t believe that we will know until the end of this budget year what the true impact is.

          If you have any questions about the balance in the PTO bank account or anything I discussed above please don’t hesitate to ask me. Thank you!


  9. I am also extremely concerned about the plan to spend this much money on a celebration. While I absolutely agree that there is much to be celebrated in Honey Creek’s attaining 21 years of operation, I can’t see how it’s possible to justify even the lowest amount proposed when there are many other pressing needs.

    One thing to remember during this discussion is that PTO cannot fund staff salaries or other efforts that need to be sustainable, but there is no doubt a long list of other one-time uses that could be purchased with the money needed to host a party like this. Has the staff been consulted about what they would like to see purchased or funded, or is this strictly coming from the parent perspective?


    • Karen Andrews

      The PTO can make an unrestricted gift to the general fund of the school to be used for staff bonuses or purchases as determined by the needs of the school. It would not be restricted in any way. The PTO could also gift money to the HCCS Foundation to be used for school operating funds.


    • Bill, the anniversary committee is made up of parents and teachers.


      • Alex Foulis

        I don’t think the teachers on the committee have sought the views of the staff as a whole. Many of the teachers and staff have concerns about this expenditure.


        • Tammy Hall

          The teachers on this committee have certainly sought out the views of other staff members at staff meetings and in emails. All teachers were also invited to join this committee last year.


  10. Justin & Abby Adams

    While an Anniversary Party might be a good opportunity to connect with current and past families, we would echo some of the comments above that we should prioritize outstanding issues that come up repeatedly including improving teacher pay and technology. This proposed $10,000 expenditure combined with the SCRIP inventory balance could go a long way in resolving these issues.

    We also wonder whether alumni are juggling current responsibilities to other schools and universities. While we’re sure alumni have a fondness for HCCS, will they 1) show up for an anniversary party? and 2) help us toward our fundraising goals?

    Typically, connecting with alumni is an ongoing effort versus a one-time event. Usually it starts with occasional emails, newsletters, and other soft outreaches. Maybe as a first step, we could reach out to our alumni and see if they’d like to receive HBON, and tell/remind them about the Foundation. We know that if we received a “Remember Us” email from the Foundation leadership with the graduation video Shellee thoughtfully puts together for each graduating class, we would be inclined to click the link to donate to the Foundation. That kind of pitch is personal, direct, sincere, and best of all the work is mostly done and the cost minimal compared to this proposed Anniversary Party.

    We also have concerns about end of the school year burnout. As great as HC events are, many people are tired of pitching in and showing up by the end of May. Perhaps the anniversary celebration can be incorporated into an existing event

    We think this party also sends an inconsistent message to families who are adjusting to the regular requests to donate time, money and resources for critical things like school supplies, the General Fund, and the Foundation. We accept that we need to pitch in, and our family does so happily, but we want to know the money we donate is being used to solve the pressing issues first.

    -Justin & Abby Adams


    • Just a heads up that one of the goals is to create a centralized database of alumni, Honey Creek currently has no way of contacting our alumni other than teachers who maintain contact with some of our previous students/families. We agree that connecting with alumni is an ongoing effort, but with no history of doing this we are trying to lay the foundation to make this happen 🙂


  11. Claire Sparklin

    Thank you so much for the opportunity for community to lend their voice and opinion. I’m always so honored to be part of this community of thoughtful and engaged families.

    I’ll echo a lot of the concerns about this event that others brought up. For me, the largest concern is that this is inconsistent with the repeated message that our school requires more resources to function effectively. I think the event sounds fun, but I don’t see a direct link to how it’s going to help our community’s financial needs. On the contrary, it appears to drain them.

    I would be very much in support of a fundraiser and spending some money to host that. I just can’t seem to make sense of hearing over and over to donate, donate, donate, donate, donate and then let’s spend money on a fun party. The contradicting messages has me wondering how that donated money is being spent… is it really needed if we’re having a $10,000.00 party with little to no planning of it generated more income? Or is there a fundraising plan involved with this party that would generate more money for our school?

    Again, thank you for the opportunity to weigh in on this. And, thank you for your commitment to our school by serving in such meaningful ways.



  12. Abby Adams

    Thank you, Simone, for making yourself available for responses and questions. I have two questions:

    This year’s PTO budget already has $2,000 set aside for the Anniversary Celebration. Is this motion requesting an additional maximum PTO expenditure of $8,000, or an additional $10,000?

    If we do not have an alumni database, how do we plan to invite alumni?


    • Our goal for reaching out to alumni, is for those in our community that have contact with alumni to contact them and let them know about the event and that they can register on the 21st anniversary website. Understandably those who currently have contact with alumni are not comfortable just handing over someone elses contact info, so with the help of social media and good old chatting/networking with friends it will get the word out about the celebration.


      • Tammy Hall

        There are also old directories which can help us with sending out printed information by mail if resources for this are available.


  13. Jennifer Schank

    I just had a couple quick thoughts.

    The extra money from the SCRIPT inventory balance is a great opportunity. I echo other comments. Assessing funding gaps throughout the school and/or fundraising strategies, then prioritizing the best way to use the money in both the long and short term, should happen before a decision is made to increase the funding from the approved $2000 to (up to) $10,000.

    Concerning the alumni strategy, it seems to be putting the cart before the horse, considering our limited alumni contacts. Developing supporting materials and a framework (for example updating Honey Creek’s website Alumni page) to collect, manage, and use alumni data seems an important initial step to have in place first.

    Thanks for setting up this open discussion.


    • As per my comment above, we are currently building the database/event website for the celebration. It will be ready to go live in November, then through networking and social media this will give us a good 5 months to get the word out about the celebration to both alumni and our community.


      • Tammy Hall

        The website is really amazing and has the ability to collect, with permission, addresses, memories and photographs from all of our alumni.


  14. Shellee Almquist

    Dearest Community,

    Thank you for the frank discussion regarding the 21st anniversary celebration on the PTO website comment section. It is very important to know what people are thinking about regarding the allocation of resources. Here are my thoughts.

    I have been talking about a big celebration for a few years, before our 10th anniversary, at our 15th, and before our 20th. The idea gathered steam and importance and a 21st anniversary committee was formed. I have always believed that our community works hard and is so focused on the day-to-day tasks that we have not taken the opportunity to truly celebrate our achievements, of which there are so, so many. I believe that celebrations have a way of creating opportunities for reflection on the past and forming new or strengthened roads forward. Our community should celebrate our accomplishments, we should reflect on our past, we must find new ways forward, and we have to reach out to those who have benefited from our efforts to help strengthen our path forward.

    Our community generously supports so many tangible things. Supplies, classroom help, PTO events (big parties), financial resources, I could go on for a page. People work hard to make Honey Creek Community School the best place for their children and for many other children. I have had the pleasure to watch and appreciate our community’s efforts for almost 21 years! I would like to be able to thank each and every one of you with hugs, handshakes, smiles and ice cream. I would like to be able to greet alumni and their parents and welcome them back home.

    In this day and age of penny pinching and belt tightening, how do we find the money to support such an audacious desire to celebrate our many accomplishments? First, the 21st anniversary committee talked about the many ways in which we could celebrate. Then we developed a budget that would help us keep the important pieces for friend reconnection, development and celebration in mind. As we moved through the process we realized that we needed to present a range of options to the community but still keep our vision. And yet, we still didn’t have an answer to where will the funds come from? The general fund, the PTO, merchandise sales?

    As many of you know by now, our committee decided to have a multi-pronged approach. We would sell merchandise (t-shirts, sweatshirts, polo shirts), ask for outside community contributions, and request funds from the PTO. If necessary, we would request funds be budgeted in the general fund.

    We are now at the point of decision-making. The tiered budget has been given to the PTO and votes will be counted soon. We look to the community to support the idea of an opportunity to celebrate Honey Creek Community School, our unique and wonderful school and to continue to set the groundwork for the future.

    Shellee Almquist


  15. Tammy Hall

    I’d like to share some information about the 21st Anniversary committee’s goals, the reasons I’m volunteering my time for this event and why I think the community should support the PTO’s request to give up to $10,000 for this event.

    The committee has three main goals: to celebrate our achievements, to continue to share the story of Honey Creek and to start a database of names, contact information, photos and memories from our 21 year history.

    We need to celebrate our successes here at Honey Creek! As a charter school, we have less resources, yet educate our students better than many traditional school programs. In addition to great test scores, our community is raising responsible and respectful humans. In many ways, we can compare the education of our children to that offered by private schools. If you’re not familiar with charter school vs. public school politics, you should know that working at a charter school is looked down upon by many traditional educators. To say that we do more with less is an understatement.

    The story of Honey Creek and how we educate students in a unique way needs to be shared. This has been a school goal for years and this celebration can help. We’ll be gathering photos, narratives and other artifacts. How we put them together and how permanent a display it will be is dependent on our budget. Wouldn’t it be nice to have a commemorative piece on display to share with future families and possible corporate donors?

    The community sorely needs a database of all it’s past members. Many parents and staff members have pockets of alumni they can reach out to, but we need a more comprehensive and permanent collection. Within the requested proposal is a line item for a direct mailing. With this money, and the paper copy directories from years past (yes, we have them!), we can reach out to everyone who has been touched by Honey Creek’s magic over the last 21 years.

    As a committee, we hear and appreciate our community’s concerns about the amount of money we’re asking for. As an individual, I hear, appreciate and agree with the fact that parents are asked to do a lot financially and timewise. During my eight years as a HCCS parent and my 13+ years as a staff member, I have been selective about how much and to which causes I give/gave my money. I also voice my concerns to the appropriate people be that my administration, the board of directors, the Foundation or the PTO.

    While our financial situation is not great, I believe this event has the potential to ease some of these demands. With a database, past members of our communities can be asked to help. Having a cohesive, community-supported celebration with some lasting artifacts could entice potential donors. But we can’t do this well without funding.

    It was brought up at the PTO meeting on October 9 that there is enough money to fund up to $10,000 and do other projects this year. Our group hopes to spend less than the requested amount. We will be selling Honey Creek shirts, hoodies and polos soon, with all proceeds going to this celebration. Corporate sponsorships are being sought to help fund this event. With your help, spiritwear items could be on sale at this event and any profits will offset the cost of this event.

    Please consider supporting this event and all the things it will do for our amazing school.


  16. Barbara Naess

    I agree that the accomplishments of Honey Creek are worth celebrating.
    I also agree with many others who have commented that in a time of such severe budget constraints, $10,000 is a lot to spend on a party.
    In this wonderfully supportive and creative community, I believe we could put on a great party for $2,000.
    I am also concerned that if parents who are regularly donating their time and money disagree with this expense and we go ahead with it anyway, we may lose credibility with some of our most committed donors.


  17. Stephanie Boling

    I am opposed to the budget motion to spend up to $10,000. I share many of the concerns people have already expressed about spending that amount of money when we have a budget deficit and many student needs. If a new motion were put forth for $2,000, I would support that because I too believe there are reasons to celebrate.


  18. Paddy Oates

    First of all thank you to all who are volunteering their time on the PTO – we all appreciate you making the time to do so.

    I have been a Honey Creek Parent for 10 of the 21 years the proposed party is celebrating and I am very glad that my three children have been able to attend the school. The staff, parents and students create a vibrant, warm community and a great environment in which to learn and develop.

    I do think that is worth celebrating, but I do not believe it is financially responsible to spend $10,000 on a party of any description, whatever the purpose. I would be comfortable with spending $2,000.

    Tammy laid out the three objectives for the party so it is worth considering if those objectives are more likely to be achieved by spending $10,000 rather than $2,000:

    1. to celebrate our achievements – we can achieve this with $2,000 simply by having a party / potluck and perhaps inviting a wider group of people to attend than current staff, students and parents. Could we use the gym to accommodate a bigger group?

    2. to continue to share the story of Honey Creek – Spending $10,000 will not achieve this. The budget detail indicates we would get a “permanent display for the school” but that only works to share the story if you have a lot of traffic through the school from outside the community.

    A more effective way of raising awareness would be a short well-produced video where both current and previous staff, parents and students highlight what is different about Honey Creek and why it works. We probably have the talent to do this well with current staff, parents and students without spending a lot of money.

    Learning how to effectively distribute this message using YouTube, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram etc would be a useful project for students and would reach a much wider audience. It would also be a useful addition to the website.

    3. to start a database of names, contact information, photos and memories from our 21 year history – again we do not need to spend $10,000 to do this. If we are planning on inviting alumni, presumably we already have a list of names, addresses and possibly email addresses or plan on compiling one. The photos and memories can be compiled as part of 2.

    We also need to ask ourselves if a broad alumni outreach is the most effective fundraising approach. I think a more targeted approach, where past students / parents who still live in the Ann Arbor area and work with organizations who would be interested in financially supporting different parts of the curriculum would be more effective. Have we considered hiring a fundraising professional to do this and paying them on performance?


  19. Todd Austin

    Good morning!

    The vote on this motion took place yesterday morning at 9:00 a.m., with results promised for 10:00 a.m. Many of those who attended the meeting and voted were unable to stay as late as 10:00 a.m. We, along with the rest of the community, await the results.

    When may we expect them to be released?

    Thanks very much!


  20. cgbwells

    The motion failed, with 16 votes opposed and 12 votes in favor.

    Thank you all for the comments and discussion here, by email, and at the November meeting.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s