Most schools have one problem in common - insufficient funds. The need for more money has forced schools to develop a partnership with businesses in hopes of easing the financial burden.
One Utah company, Riverton Chevrolet/Geo, is participating in a national program developed by its parent company called "Driving for Education." It's a chance for schools in the Jordan District to earn free computer equipment.Interested schools pick a week during which they ask parents, neighbors and friends - over the age of 21 - to test-drive a car at Riverton Motors. For every person who drives a car, the school receives a drive certificate.
At the end of the week the school tallies up its certificates and trades them for prizes. Prizes range from encyclopedias for 50 drive certificates to a Macintosh LCHD40 color system with software, for 250 drive certificates.
"We really go overboard not to apply any sales pressure whatsoever," said Ross Baldwin, general manager. What's in it for them? Exposure.
Baldwin said after 70 years in Riverton, the company must relocate closer to the freeway and will now include Sandy in its market area.
"We want people to a least be exposed to Riverton Motors and what we are," he said. Monte Vista Elementary tallied 152 drive certificates and received a Macintosh Classic 2/40 system with software. Four other schools have also received computers. Grace Lutheran has scored highest so far with 180 certificates. The private school has an enrollment of 129.
"That was really fun to go in and test-drive a car and have it serve a purpose," said Colleen Stevenson, PTA president for Monte Vista.
When she heard about Riverton Motor's program, she had some reservations.
"If the PTA is going to be involved with this, we didn't want people to have something shoved down their throats," she said. "A lot of people said they didn't want to go in because they didn't like salesmen."
But Baldwin assured Stevenson and the others who've participated that his people would go the extra mile not to pressure the patrons.
"He held up his end of the bargain," Stevenson said. "He had really nice sales people. I was just so impressed that they were so hospitable."
The offer is available until July, when the company will evaluate the program and decide whether or not to offer it next year.
Baldwin was surprised only six schools have participated so far. Jordan Superintendent Raymond Whittenburg said it could be due to proximity. Those schools close to Riverton Motors would be more able and willing to participate.
He said the district is bombarded with offers from businesses every year, and the board usually leaves the decision of participation up to the individual schools.
Lone Peak Elementary is one of two schools that signed up and then canceled. Principal Keith Wilson said the reason was the number of activities in which the school was already participating.
"The (PTA) felt the same as I did," Wilson said. "(The president) didn't feel comfortable asking the PTA to take on another activity." Wilson said the school would be interested in participating in the future.