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More Than Nothing... Nothing At All

M.T.N. and N.A.A.--those are the newest acronyms in the Perham area, and in the coming months, you'll be seeing them all over the place.

More Than Nothing

Nothing At All

MTN and NAA will be the "buzz acronyms" for a multitude of fundraising campaigns designed to help the Perham-Dent schools maintain equilibrium during their financial crisis.

A "More Than Nothing" informational meeting was hosted Dec. 3, led by Jo Strege, director of the 549 Family Foundation, which will serve as the clearinghouse and fiscal administrator of all the funds raised.

A wide range of ideas were discussed by the diverse group, which included adults as well as a student representative, Abby Kalina.

"Build a community/area-wide movement to encourage individuals, families, businesses, organizations and alumni to make a voluntary donation to benefit the Perham-Dent school district," that's how Strege described the "More Than Nothing" campaign.

An outgrowth of the MTN campaign is Nothing At All, the brainchild of Brian Mort, a member of the 549 Foundation board.

Mort's "Nothing At All" campaign encourages property taxpayers to "give the difference" on their tax statement from what they paid for school district 549 in 2008 to the lesser amount of 2009. For many property owners, school taxes will actually be down in 2009, because of increases and shifts in property values.

Other plans in the works:

---Drop boxes; posters; people are talking to employers about matching employee gifts

---A whole class of students designed logos as part of a contest. The logo designs were voted on Dec. 5.

---There is a challenge from John and Becky Schornack; they are challenging any parents with kids in the Perham school district to match their $100 donation.

It is an ambitious goal, but the group that met last week believed $400,000 to $500,000 could be raised by summer.

The funds will go through 549 Family and will be a specific account designated for "district budget relief" for the 2009-2010 school year.

"We don't really know what the world will look like next year with all the fast changing, so we decided to just focus on the here and now. Hopefully, things will be much brighter a year from now," wrote Strege in a letter to supporters.

A website is nearly up and running: www. 549moretha

The website will direct people how to give with a credit card online and will link them to a donation page.

Drop boxes will be placed in as many businesses and locations as possible. The students are working on the boxes at Perham High School.

Checks can be sent to: 549 Family Foundation, 200 5th St. SE, Perham, MN 56573. Please mark the check with "More Than Nothing" so it is applied to that fund.


'More Than Nothing' fundraising ideas

These are some of the ideas generated for the "More Than Nothing" campaign to raise funds for the school.

• Alumni classes challenge each other

• Businesses challenge other businesses

• "Fill the Field" event, with supporters filling the entire field and contributing to the cause

• Bake sales, rummage sales

• Dodgeball tournament

• Texas Hold 'Em tourney

• Community variety-talent show, concert

• School classes make items to raffle or auction


Looming school budget cuts

Here are some of the $289,000 in cuts for the present school year, which were discussed at the Dec. 3 Perham-Dent School Board meeting.

---Lay off two cleaners, $25,000

---Reduce two more secretaries, $30,000

---Spending freeze in current budget, $125,000

---Trash reduction and recycling, particularly paper, could save $2,500 by the end of the year

---Send report cards home with students, saving about $1,000 in postage

---By shifting certain cleaning, clerical and utility costs to other budgets, it could save $10,000 in the general fund, which is the most critical fund as far as the school's day-to-day operations and expenses go

---Selling lots from present school property was briefly discussed as an option.