Schools fund programs with auctions

April 10, 2009 4:39:36 PM PDT
Everywhere you look, there seems to be budget cuts during the recession. But some schools who are feeling the pinch are being proactive to raise money. And they're turning to online auctions to do it.

Students at Manhattan's PS 51 decided to take their ballroom dancing class outside. They are preparing for a ballroom dancing competition, but activities like this are a big part of life at the school.

"I feel it's our responsibility to really provide a rich arts education to every student in this school," principal Nancy Sing-Block said.

Educators point out that when there are school budget cuts, programs like this ballroom dancing class are the first to go.

Through a company called, cMarket, hundreds of schools are able raise extra funds, through individual online auctions. It is a convenient way for the public to donate to public schools.

"They're more likely to buy it, and if they're more likely to buy it, we're more likely to make money," parent Carolyn Montgomery said.

In addition to things like vacations and theater tickets donated by businesses, parents have contributed to the auction. Professional photographer Barry Johnson donated a photo session. "I was thrilled that they accepted and thought it was worth auctioning off, so we'll see how it goes," he said.

Sharda Laier is a jewelry designer, who added her work and creativity to the auction.

"In addition to what I've made, I've also received donations from my vendors around the world," she said.

This is the second year PS 51 has run an online auction. Last year, they raised $8,000. Over just a few weeks this year, they have more than $6,000. Since January, according to the cMarket company, similar auctions raised $3.6 million for K-through-12 schools across the nation.

"If it were not for that money, we would probably not have been able to have the arts programs that we do have here," assistant principal Cathy Myers said.

The Web site company takes 5 percent of the profits, but PS 51 administrators feel it is worth doing again next year.

To see the items available at the auction, visit cMarket.com.

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WEB PRODUCED BY: Bill King


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