SPECIAL SCHOOL COUNCIL MEETING RE CHARITABLE STATUS
JANUARY 21 2019
Next Meeting: Monday February 4, 2019.
Attendees: Anna Richter, Kelly Green, Ian Aukema, Veronica Bak, Gillian Wyett, Bryan Seaton, Liz Hanson, Elaine Rapos, Nicole Himel, Julie Sole, Mary Romoniuk, Angelafimo Brown, Jennifer Wilmer
- Opening Remarks:
- Thanks to people for coming out to special meeting.
- Thanks to those who contributed via email.
- Interest in topic and varying impressions
- Immediately after Dec 3rd meeting, parent offered to pursue and maintain charitable status: prompt further discussion warranted, therefore special meeting
- No approval of minutes from Dec 3 meeting today – waiting until regular scheduled meeting Feb 4th for that (with expectation that more people who attended Dec 3rd meeting will be present)
- Tina Eng stepping down as treasurer,
- Thanks Tina for all her help to date.
- Per Tina’s suggestion, Ian Aukuma has agreed to step in and work with Tina for the spring to take over by June.
- Ian has experience in tax and was the treasurer at Glenview Sr. Public School for the last two years. Glenview Parent Council does have charitable status.
Motion to acclaim Ian Aukuma as co-treasurer by: Bryan Seaton
Seconded by: Kelly Green
- CHARITABLE STATUS for LP SCHOOL COUNCIL DISCUSSION
Benefits of Charitable Status:
- Official Tax Receipt – benefits at year end for tax return.
- Parent expectations – parents expect tax receipt and others may limit donation without
- Accountability – parents can come to the meeting to see how their donations are used .
- Parent Suggestions – LP School council is run by fellow parents. Parents can make recommendations re use of funds and donations.
Cost of getting Charitable Status: (we have volunteers who can do this)
– have to request/reregister for charitable status every year and file Charity Tax Return .
– Tax receipts for official donations have to be issued. Donations need to be tracked.
– Books and records need to be kept for govt to be accessible (6-7 years)
Parent comment: Issues with working with School/TDSB for Charitable Status:
- Solution today for Tax receipts: Limited with TDSB. If funds go to the school to enable tax receipts, the school can access the funds, but the council can not. We’d have to partner with the school to write the check towards the area where funds are needed.
- In the past the most has been $10,000 total donations to the school council. Donations to the school council have been low. Currently low balance to administer.
Parent comment: make sure registration is worthwhile given the amount of work.
Parent Question: Able to do donations, money goes into bank account. Is there a cost to do that, or is there easy access to the bank.
- Ian does not think there is a restriction on bank. Pace Credit union used by Glenview. Glenview set up CanadaHelps to fund online donations through that, they take percentage.
Parent Comment: One person understood Canadahelps was an issue, but was not, it was another one, online donations would go to them, then they issue a cheque.
Anna (Chair) Comments:
- Timing for Request for Donations – didn’t start early as we wanted to know where the funds would be applied and not arbitrarily start collecting money.
- As soon as funding requests were defined in early November, we tried to request donations.
- In the past used TFSS, a registered charity and agency of TDSB, for free, in place to support breakfast programs in need. Our school council account was administered by TFSS at no cost. ( Only 3 school councils out of 330 schools had pages with TFSS; uncommon for school councils to be hosted by TFSS; not the intention of TDSB for TFSS to administer school council pages) The costs incurred by using TFSS are dependent on the platform to collect the funds – eg. CanadaHelps (charge 5%)/ others charge 2.9% but may be harder to manage.
- TFSS – was not reliable and not there for us when we needed it in Nov 2018.
- Opted to start collecting funds in December with no tax receipt.
- Hope to develop one established, reliable, sustainable way of collecting funds. Money would be available immediately and one way of administering funds. Options for collecting could be at discretion of that year’s council eg Canadahelps (5%); also our TD bank has donations tracking accounts for small non-profit charities,
- Spent 6-8 weeks investigating. Could be more time spent on other things, more meaningful, than tracking the funds. Should have a structure in place to provide in place for this and future council.
- SchoolCashOnline – Using that as a direct donation. TDSB would reimburse but have restrictions.
- Online form for direct donation – Parents have to put Lawrence Park then note ‘parent council’ in optional box if people remember, risky to ensure parent council gets added.
- We wouldn’t have to have intermediary if registered.
- TDSB is its own registered charity. TFSS (Toronto Foundation for Student Success) separate arms length agency of TDSB;
- CashOnline – can’t collect random amounts, but could sell units of something like $25 increments. But was decided in past that that is too limiting.
- Neighborhood Examples – John Wanless sold $250 pickets through CashOnline towards their playground.
- Independent of the school – charitable status would allow us to have control over the funds.
- Benefits of Parent Council to have TDSB-independent solution: If council wants to spend funds not per TDSB policy (communication, Staff appreciation,) may not be able to access the funds if held by TDSB.
- Question on past efforts: Was TFSS easy in the past? Toronto Foundation for School Success?
Gillian Wyett (past treasurer and past co-chair at LP School Council): It was easy to deal with. In the past endowments were complicated to deal with in accounting and tracking. Wrapped foundation up and had to transfer endowments to TDSB, and that was difficult. Things school could access but council could not. Once before asked for funds for teacher appreciation breakfast and response back was teachers should eat before they get to school. TFSS was much easier.
- In the past during a strike, put principal in difficult position as communications could not go out through the school, so better communication if separate distribution list for council outside of school. Similarly, TDSB held or administered funds (like TFSS) may be inaccessible if job action in place by administrators
- TDSB Restrictions (if the funds were through TDSB) Expenses for fundraising – TDSB policy would be can’t spend the funds raised to raise more funds.
- Parent Comment sent in: One parent said it would be easier if through school parent council for matching funds from work.
- Parent comment on TFSS – wasn’t sure in the past even if her donation had gone through. No communication or feel the love – it would be nice if you could send an email to say thank you for the donation. This would help solve one problem of communication, even of explaining what the funds would be used for. It would be nice to show what the school priorities are for where the funds will go towards. When you get a thank you it makes a difference. Last year people rallied around the Wellness Centre, so was clear where the money went.
- Being Specific on Where Funds Raised Go:
- Issue – if you only raise $10,000 it doesn’t go far. Also, if it’s too specific and here isn’t enough money to do what you wanted. Then gets into issue of asking for more money, or give money back if it doesn’t go where directed. Suggestion – not committing to what, but just list of where money is going.
- Request – Donation Drive – did it indicate where funds were being used. Summarized version in the Eye.
- Suggestion – promote the details of where the funds are going to.
- Question – is receiving confirmation from school/parent council – enough to use on tax receipt? No – you need official receipt.
- Grade 8 info night – parents are invited to join. One parent said he’d participate and help Ian with Treasurer going forward.
- Giving Tree – employer donation – you can search for charities and if way to get on that clearly as LP School Council would be easier and clearer than listing under other name. Good way to amplify the registration.
- Where do we go from here? Take to larger group/ vote on now: Vote now.
John Hiddema, Co-Treasurer of Glenview School Council, 2017-2019 and LP parent starting September 2019:
“I plan to be active on Lawrence Park school council for the next four years. I am strongly supportive of LP school council forming a new charitable organization that has officers and directors who are independent of the TDSB.
As a general statement, I think that any not-for-profit organization that works to improve society should be able to offer its supporters a tax receipt for financial contributions.
I am a new board member of my area’s residents’ association. We do not (yet) have charitable status and this is a serious obstacle to our fundraising efforts.
Even if the lack of charitable status has had no negative impact on LP school council’s fundraising this school year, and I would be surprised if this was the case, to me it is appropriate that we offer our supporters a tax receipt. I will participate, starting immediately, in making this happen if LP school council approves the formation of a new charitable organization. I urge you to vote in support of this initiative.”
Robin Conliffe: Glenview School Council and LPCI parent
“I truly believe that LPCI should file to have charitable status. From a parent’s point of view, it is more advantageous to parents as we are issued receipts. From a council point of view, it allows more flexibility when voting and allocating the raised monies.
I believe the reportin?g to the CRA is not that complicated as we do not raise that much money. However, it is really important that the reporting is filed every year.
I hope this helps.
If you vote on having LPCI become a registered charity please add my name to the vote. “
Anna: as Current Chair–
- Would be far easier coming into the role knowing that we use one established, reliable and sustainable means to collect all funds and issue tax deductible receipts ie for direct donations, special project fundraising, throughout the year, etc
- School Council could focus on meaningful activities, not just finance and accounting if means of collection and accounting is (responsibly) simplified
- If we become a registered charity, we can sign up on line for CanadaHelps, TD bank, or other platforms in a few moments. I feel that as a council, opinions of council members should be invited and considered. Time consuming to solicit input regarding a variety of different options, especially if revisited annually.
- This year TFSS was not reliable – not available when we were ready to start collecting donations. Also, TFSS formally requires principal’s request to release funds to school council (may be negotiated but not a given that council will have direct control of funds).
- If registered charity, only school council will have authority over the school council’s funds. Ie not required to ask the principal to request release of funds. Future administrators may not all be agreeable.
- Occasionally, council wants to spend funds to in way which may not be exactly per TDSB policy eg: hosting website, communicating by Facebook or other apps (not TDSB approved), contribute to staff appreciation
- This year, as chair, spent about 6-8 weeks consulting other members of council, making inquiries and doing research to receive donations and issue tax receipts. We should try to avoid this time expenditure for next chair/executive. We’re all volunteers with many other commitments in our lives.
- I urge council members to keep it simple: One means of receiving funds and one bank account to oversee.
- Research conducted – other schools offering tax deductible receipts include Forest Hill Jr, Glenview, John Ross, Forest Hill CI, etc
- Suggestion from a parent whose employer will match donations if registered charity- so much easier if just one clearly identified charity.
- Direction of TDSB – TDSB is moving away from cash at the school and using cash online.
- Other School Examples:
- Glenview raises $25,000 in donations and is half the size of LPCI.
- 3 schools out of 333 collecting for school council using TFSS. Not big platform for that purpose. Then it was halted for that reason.
- Question why do we need a platform? Even with charitable number why do we need an online platform?
- One parent said that online payment would be easier.
- One suggestion etransfer
- Email account the parent council uses, within Constant Contact, could possibly use as donation vehicle; Julie will look into it.
- Once have charitable status – then can decide what, if any, platform to use 9 or just accept cheques).
- Parent Comment – TFSS was not reliable. One mentioned someone at TFSS is moving on, so perhaps why it has been unreliable.
- Parent Comment: CRA – may take 1 year to get charitable status. Maybe need two options: one immediately and one for longer term once charitable status obtained
- SHOW OF HANDS TO SUPPORT POSSIBLE MOTION to move forward towards obtaining charitable status
- All present agreed, although 2 were conditional to availability of TFSS.
- MOTION TO MOVE FORWARD TOWARDS OBTAINING CHARITABLE STATUS motioned by Bryan Seaton, seconded by Mary Romoniuk second to move forward for charitable status.
- MOTION TO ADJOURN motioned by Ian Aukema, seconded by Gillian Wyett.