Marco charter school partly eases budget deficit pain

Marco Island Charter Middle School as seen from the air. In front are some Tommie Barfield Elementary sports facilities. Quentin Roux/Staff

Photo by qr

Marco Island Charter Middle School as seen from the air. In front are some Tommie Barfield Elementary sports facilities. Quentin Roux/Staff

— Fundraising volunteers and board members continue to chip away at a $113,000 deficit that threatens to put the 10-year-old Marco Island Charter Middle School in the red for the first time since inception.

But, with a recent “Boogie ‘n Blues” fundraiser yielding $17,600 — and a couple more events and solicitations planned prior to the annual school audit in July — board president Jennifer Tenney said there’s a chance of getting back in the black.

In the cards is a cash raffle with a grand prize of $10,000 to be announced on the last day of the school year, June 10, as well as solicitation for donations from clubs and organizations by school Principal George Abounader.

Also, Tenney said, money will come in from an electronics equipment recycling program in operation at the school, plus from parents who have opted to pay regular amounts of “school fees” instead of volunteering their time during the year.

The recycling program incorporates items such as cell phones, laptops and digital cameras, with a participating company paying cash for individual items.

“The newer the item, the more they pay,” Tenney said. “Depending on that, they either refurbish them or just recycle them.”

Drop-off is at the school lobby.

“I’m pretty sure we’re going to be close,” Tenney said of the efforts to stave off the specter of a deficit. “We have the potential to get there.”

Because charter schools typically are funded about 2 percent less per student than regular public schools, Tenney said, ongoing fundraising is simply unavoidable.

A long-term goal, she said, is to boost an existing endowment fund to the point where its interest could cover the annual budgetary shortfall.

Lori Havemeier, co-chair of the recent fundraiser, said coverage of the school’s potential predicament in the Daily News and Marco Eagle had brought out the best in the local community.

People with no ties to the school had outnumbered anyone else, Havemeier said.

Tickets sold out, yielding about $6,000 — and an array of silent auction items brought in about $11,000.

Havemeier said the event likely will be an annual one because of its success.

The school’s 2010 operating budget is $1,626,356. It has 365 students from grades six through eight.

The school is ranked in the top 3.5 percent of all public schools in Florida. It opened in August 1998, with 200 students housed in portables.

The new school complex, costing $17.3 million, welcomed its first students on Aug. 20, 2007. A two-story academic building and a separate related arts building comprises 69,000 square feet.

By definition, being a charter school means it operates as an independent contractor with the Collier County School District.

Anyone interested in the cash raffle, which is limited to 500 tickets at $50 apiece, should contact

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Comments » 1

ClearlyStated34145 writes:

This is a great little school, serving the needs of local students. Let's continue to support MICMS - its administration, staff and students. They've proven they're worthy of our support, and they need us!

Also, remember...every $ you give to the Marco Academy (they don't have a charter, even though they are calling themselves a public charter school), is a dollar that could be given to MICMS or Lely High School. These two schools are doing an awesome job of educating our kids!

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