Cash-strapped schools turn to volunteers to fill budget gaps Camino, left, and Pamela Stone volunteer at the Higley Unified School District in Arizona. By Tami Luhby, senior writer

NEW YORK ( -- As state and local funding for education dries up, schools around the nation are asking their communities to help them maintain their services and programming.

Many are increasing their use of volunteers, while others are boosting their fundraising efforts. Some are even turning to online auctions to boost reserves.

Arizona's Higley Unified School District, for instance, relies on a volunteer corps of 3,500 area residents to help make up for a $10 million loss in funding over the past two years.

"We aren't able to financially afford the support staff we need," said Melinda Anderson, Higley's volunteer coordinator, who was hired last year to boost participation in the suburban Phoenix community.

Anderson has added more than 1,000 volunteers to the rolls since she joined the 10,300-student school system last November. She's worked to recruit a wide range of volunteers, who include retirees, police officers, a former professional football player and social workers.

These volunteers can be found planting trees, helping youngsters cross the street and watching over them in the lunchroom and library. They also tutor children, assist teachers in the classroom and work with the clerical staff answering phones and filing.

This summer, a group of high school and college students helped the district upgrade its technology.

In other school districts, the plea is for cash, not volunteers.

In San Marino, Calif., for example, the school district avoided having to pack 39 students into a classroom thanks in large part to $3.4 million in donations from the community, a large jump from the usual $1 million in contributions.

The wealthy district, which educates 3,200 children, raises 40% of its budget from donations and land taxes. The big boost in fundraising this past spring helped offset a cut in state aid of more than $2,000 per student in recent years.

Parents and residents are willing to donate because they don't want the top-rated district to cut programs, such as athletics and arts, said Gary Woods, superintendent.

"We refer to ourselves as semi-private," he said. "We have to go to our citizens to bail us out."

Other schools have come up with creative ways to raise funds, including turning to online auctions. BiddingForGood, for instance, says it ran 1,100 auctions during the 2009-2010 school year, up from 820 a year earlier. The average proceeds are $14,500, of which the company takes a 9% cut.

PS 158, in New York City's tony Upper East Side neighborhood, has raised nearly $63,000 from the four online auctions it's held since the spring of 2009.

The parents association uses BiddingForGood to offer Broadway tickets, trips, gift certificates to Manhattan restaurants and stays at summer homes. The online auction not only supplements the school's annual live auction, but allows it to clear its inventory of items that didn't sell during the live event.

Gwen Kahn, an association board member who manages the online auction effort, said she plans to hold another three this school year.

"Now more than ever, we are trying to get as much as possible to make up for shortfalls from budget cuts," Kahn said. "In the last year, everyone has worked really hard to raise a lot of money." To top of page

Just the hot list include
Frontline troops push for solar energy
The U.S. Marines are testing renewable energy technologies like solar to reduce costs and casualties associated with fossil fuels. Play
25 Best Places to find rich singles
Looking for Mr. or Ms. Moneybags? Hunt down the perfect mate in these wealthy cities, which are brimming with unattached professionals. More
Fun festivals: Twins to mustard to pirates!
You'll see double in Twinsburg, Ohio, and Ketchup lovers should beware in Middleton, WI. Here's some of the best and strangest town festivals. Play
Index Last Change % Change
Dow 32,627.97 -234.33 -0.71%
Nasdaq 13,215.24 99.07 0.76%
S&P 500 3,913.10 -2.36 -0.06%
Treasuries 1.73 0.00 0.12%
Data as of 6:29am ET
Company Price Change % Change
Ford Motor Co 8.29 0.05 0.61%
Advanced Micro Devic... 54.59 0.70 1.30%
Cisco Systems Inc 47.49 -2.44 -4.89%
General Electric Co 13.00 -0.16 -1.22%
Kraft Heinz Co 27.84 -2.20 -7.32%
Data as of 2:44pm ET


Bankrupt toy retailer tells bankruptcy court it is looking at possibly reviving the Toys 'R' Us and Babies 'R' Us brands. More

Land O'Lakes CEO Beth Ford charts her career path, from her first job to becoming the first openly gay CEO at a Fortune 500 company in an interview with CNN's Boss Files. More

Most stock quote data provided by BATS. Market indices are shown in real time, except for the DJIA, which is delayed by two minutes. All times are ET. Disclaimer. Morningstar: © 2018 Morningstar, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Factset: FactSet Research Systems Inc. 2018. All rights reserved. Chicago Mercantile Association: Certain market data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved. Dow Jones: The Dow Jones branded indices are proprietary to and are calculated, distributed and marketed by DJI Opco, a subsidiary of S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC and have been licensed for use to S&P Opco, LLC and CNN. Standard & Poor's and S&P are registered trademarks of Standard & Poor's Financial Services LLC and Dow Jones is a registered trademark of Dow Jones Trademark Holdings LLC. All content of the Dow Jones branded indices © S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC 2018 and/or its affiliates.