The Fairfax County School Board, heeding arguments that it would be swamped with endless charity campaigns, has rejected a proposal to allow students to raise money for Ethiopian famine relief in the schools.
Instead, the board voted late Thursday to encourage schools "to make available information relative to famine relief and the means by which individuals may make direct contributions" to help.
Board members said they sympathized with the cause of Ethiopian relief but wanted to adhere to a two-year-old policy that forbids fund-raising by students under school auspices. The restriction is aimed at preventing charity drives from encroaching on class time and at relieving school officials of having to screen requests from charities and keep track of the money collected.
A group of students and parents, citing the urgency of Ethiopian famine relief needs, asked the School Board May 9 to make an exception to its policy. Four days later, county board Chairman John F. Herrity proposed that students collect money for famine relief, but he retreated after other supervisors voiced reservations. The county board named a committee to examine ways of raising funds without tangling with county policies.
Superintendent William J. Burkholder, asked by the School Board to respond to the fund-raising request, said Thursday he supports charitable fund-raising, but not in the schools. "If you make an exception in this area, you will find yourself deluged with requests for exceptions," he said.
"It would be a mistake to engage in a full-blown campaign that will impinge on instructional time," he said.
In other action, the School Board approved revenue and spending adjustments to the county's $531 million education budget for the fiscal year that begins July 1. Among the spending approved was $817,000 for renovations, new athletic uniforms and other expenses stemming from the merger of Fort Hunt and Groveton high schools.
The budget shows that the county will save $521,000 by mergers and closings; that is less than the $733,000 figure given to the board by staff last week, because of additional expenses calculated since then.
The board voted in March to close Fort Hunt High and send its students to Groveton, which will be renamed West Potomac High School. It also voted to close Bryant and Whitman intermediate schools. Fort Hunt will become an intermediate school named after the poet Carl Sandburg.
Other provisions of the budget adjustments include:
* A 14.3 percent salary hike for bus drivers to alleviate a shortage and bring wages up to those in the rest of the region.
* A three-year plan to place elementary school principals on 12-month contracts in the next three years.