Question for non-americans - school/activity specials financing?

This is relation to my thread about theater funding.

In your countries schools, are their school theater departments that put on plays and musicals? If so how are they funded?

Also in general, do kids in your country when they want to do special activities like be on sports teams, do they hold fundraisers where they say sell stuff or do activities like car washes to raise money?

Apparently so. I am not a parent nor do I care for schools, but in Britain:

As many as one in six state schools have sent letters to parents asking that they donate £20 or more to help keep the school finances in the black, with one grammar school in North London asking parents to contribute £250 each.

Telegraph 2017 04 10 *

This seems to be due to budget cuts thanks to the Conservative zeal for Austerity for All.

**Three fifths of schools have withdrawn subjects and a quarter have reduced teaching hours, the survey of 1,200 teachers showed, whilst nearly half have rented out buildings in a desperate attempt to raise funds. Four in 10 schools have cut spending on special educational needs, and more than half now charge parents to attend concerts and sports events.
*Of 1,514 parents surveyed, 37 per cent recalled being asked to add to a school’s funds.
Younger parents (aged 18 to 34) donated the most, at £9.40 per month on average, compared to £6.20 by older parents (aged over 55). The average parent is contributing £7.30 a month, according to the PTA UK’s report.
SchoolsWeek 2017 01 31

Dunno what those little gifs are about. Happened when editing.

proper url:

Well that is a little different. In the US they don’t ask for money to go directly to the schools general fund. They generally charge a fee which they say goes to a specific area.
For example schools charge all kinds of “fees” now. For example, to use the computers. Book rental fees. Class fees. Locker fees. If your kid wants to take any class outside the basics their are fees for that. For example $100 to be in band.

Those soda and candy machines in the schools? The school gets a kickback from those. Advertisements on the side of school buses? Money from those.

The upper classes, and distinguished foreigners, whose parents pay quite a bit for the privilege, still go to preparatory schools and then on to ‘public schools’ oldish fee-taking institutions. I rather think they pay extra for violin lessons etc., things out of the ordinary.
Not fees to use basic equipment though. Like “Compass use is extra”…

And book rental is definitely pushing it.

In Australia, there are a number of fundraising options for state schools, and they all use them quite extensively.

  • You can charge directly for “non-core” things that your school provides. Among the things our school sends us a bill for are excursions, materials, and the school nurse. It comes to a few hundred a year. Most of the things on our bill are listed as compulsory contributions … I’ve never really nailed down exactly how compulsory they are if you seriously can’t pay. But the majority of people in our district are pretty well off - with a minority coming from the housing estate, so I feel there must be some sort of fee-forgiveness scheme operating.

  • They can solicit donations for explicitly voluntary purposes. We are strongly suggested to give a donation of about $500 per year for the library - but unlike the school bill, nobody chases you up for that.

  • Straight up traditional community fundraising - raffles, chocolate sales, the school fair. The school fair in our area is HUGE and they start planning for next years’ one pretty much as their sweeping up the debris from this year’s.

I prefer the Australian funding model (State based) to the US local-district system, because in theory it means that both poor and rich areas should get the same money - but fundraising of some sort or another is so prevalent and contributes so much to many schools’ budgets that in practice there’s a significant gap. Also the Federal Government sticks its nose into the mix to pass out funding for private schools too, which is somewhat controversial, to say the least.

ETA: I see I didn’t explicitly mention theatre/sports in my answer. Schools put on plays and do sports events pretty regularly, and these would be funded from a mixture of the above options. AFAIK our school plays are funded mostly from the “general fundraising” budget - the fair and raffles etc. Sports is usually parent contribution for the particular sport.

I volunteer at a highschool…I work in the concession stand…It supports the band and their trips and uniforms…and other stuff …The band dept. gets a budget amount from the school board…I have never heard if a vending machine paying the school a kickback…or advertisement on buses…When my kids were in bands and athletics I never paid a fee…that is a ridiculous statement. There were some expenses if course they were nominal though…I am an American, btw


Usually there is no theater department. There may be a music department; most school-organized shows will consist of sketches by each class.

When a play is put by the students, it’s, well, put by the students. It may be a complete play or, again, sketches with a theme. There may or may not be teachers involved.

The school provides the aula magna and may provide some materials to make big backdrops or stuff like that, but it’s a big “may”. Decorations tend to the minimalist: where a play may call for a big staircase, French doors heading out to a garden and a piano, a school play may have a ladder, the split in the middle of the back curtains open with two potted ficuses showing and a large box with a stool in front of it. And of course any decorations which do get made stay behind.

Clothing is provided by the actors. My brother played the nominal character in Don Mendo’s Revenge, a 19th century play making fun of historic dramas; everybody is supposed to wear Middle Ages garb. Clothing consisted of teenage uniform of jeans and t-shirts except when a specific item was part of one of the jokes.

Clothes provided by parents. Transportation provided by parents as much as possible. Travel is rarely more than 1h away. Those sports teams which travel further and whose kids are all in the same clothing* are the kiddie teams of professional ones: they’re supposed to have the money for it.

  • Let’s say that a school has defined their uniform as “Real Madrid’s second uniform”. They don’t specify the year, because if they did that the parents would feed the coach’s raw balls to the director. So there may be some kids who wear all-black and some who wear all-purple, both having been used by Real Madrid as their second uniform at some point.

There is no such thing as school fundraisers, but at the same time, the notion of the teacher needing to pay for school supplies makes my head hurt. Schools may charge a fee for academic, extra-scholar activities (additional languages, extra tutoring…) but it’s for the extra lessons themselves and trying to charge a fee for being in a sports team wouldn’t work unless it meant not ferrying kids and not providing uniforms. In general, Spanish economy tends to work on the favor economy a lot more than those of English-speaking countries.
University students generally take a class trip together during their third year. That one gets fundraised: the main source is the sale of school books. These may be “real books” but often they are self-published: either the best classnotes the students could find (so, from one or two super-good students) or the teacher’s own classnotes, along with the compilation of every test that particular teacher has given on that particular subject.

In the Netherlands none of these things are done through school.

If you like theatre, there are theatre companies you can join (probably for a memberhsip fee).

Sports are done in dedicates sport clubs that (depending on the sports) have their own premises and play in competitions with other sport clubs, all under the leadership of the national association. In essence the 6 year olds play under the same banner as the pros. You can join a club from about 4 or 5 years of age and some people stay active members (playing and all) well into their sixties. Depending in age, club, type of sport you will pay some memberchip fee. I think in most cases it is expected you buy your own kit.

I’m fairly certain there are also subsidies for both sport clubs and “cultural organizations”. I’m sure there are some fundraiseres now and then, but not that often and it doesn’t seem that imprtant as a means of getting/keeping funding.


Schools don’t engage in extracurricular activities. And it’s explicitly forbidden to charge for participation in any school-related activity. Anything arranged by the school is financed by the school’s budget. Period. If the kids and their parents want to go on a trip or somesuch, the teacher may well be allowed by the administration to participate, but in that case no-one can be required to pay. The kids and the parents can arrange fundraisers of any kind to finance that, but only on a purely voluntary basis.

Sports outside of PE class is through sports clubs, very similar to what’s been described for the Netherlands. The clubs have their own budget and may receive financial support from the municipality or the club’s national association, but are mostly financed by member dues. Those clubs are run on a nonprofit basis, and those running the club usually do so on a voluntary basis. The clubs arrange fundraisers like lotteries etc.

We have municipal “culture schools” where the kids enroll for music, theater or similar activities. They’re mostly publically financed, with a modest annual fee.

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UK; it varies, a lot. Schools may run fundraisers for specific purposes, or just as an annual event.

I’ve helped out a friend’s kid’s school a few times doing face painting at their annual one. They had a bunch of little stalls, some run by kids/parents/random friends who got dragged along, and a few pro stalls which presumably paid to be there. Raffles, games, lucky dips, that sort of thing. A faintly unnerving amount of alcohol as prizes.

That’s at primary level. I know some schools rent out halls and gyms over holidays and even weekends, because I’ve been to events in a few. They’re generally quite cheap, and especially for smaller towns, it seems like a good plan to me, as there often aren’t many- or any- other budget venues for community events.

Aside from that, I mainly know what my old school did, because I don’t have friends with kids at secondary level yet.

Parents paid for some school trips, though there was at my school, frequently an emergency fund if just a few kids can’t afford it (for stuff like museum visits where the whole class was going, not for things like the trip to France). They offered stuff like out of school clubs (mostly free, but some had a nominal charge) and 1-to-1 lessons on instruments at an extra fee. Never heard of charges for sports teams, aside from bringing your own kit.

For school concerts, they charged entry (£2 or so, not a large sum), and sold drinks and cakes.

I never brought home any letters straight up asking for money, aside from for trips.

My brother’s school, however, sent a lot of letters asking for money, which I believe my parents mostly grumblingly paid.

According to my brother, boys (it being a very old school for boys) with parents who didn’t cough up got harassed by some of the teachers, and even got detention for not paying some of these ‘totally optional’ fees, and you couldn’t be a prefect if your parents didn’t pay. It was widely agreed to be ridiculous, and something the school only got away with due to its age and reputation.

There was one annual ‘totally optional’ fee for, iirc, £100 for ‘laboratory equipment’, which supposedly was for replacing stuff the student broke. I remember him telling me about that one 'cos one of his classmates, having not broken anything all year, decided he was going to finish up the year by helping himself to £100 worth of equipment, mostly in the form of the batteries out absolutely anything that had batteries, and a few small, easily overlooked but vital bits from various expensive devices.

They still send my brother letters begging for money now, nearly 20 years later.

This is really interesting. At my school, we regularly charge for field trips, but we have a firm policy of never requiring payment: if a parent can’t afford it, we’ll find a way for the kid to go. This is in large part due to a very generous PTO (parent/teacher organization), that does huge fundraising for our school. Do PTOs, especially PTOs as auxiliary fundraisers for schools, exist in other countries?

We also ask parents to do things like send in snacks for the whole class about once a month, and to send in school supplies to be shared; but again, if a kid can’t afford it, we find a way to cover for them. About the only thing you must pay for are treats from the cafeteria (e.g., frozen apple-juice “slushies”), books from the book fair, and yearbooks–but even these last two items are often purchased on the sly for kids who can’t afford them, either by teachers or by wealthier parents in the class.

I am in the US and yes, my kids elementary school had a heck of a parents group. I’m not sure but they easily raised $50,000 a year or more for field trips and activities. It also paid for teacher lunches and each teacher could request money. It also paid for things around the school like say a new aquarium.

But this has brought criticism because some “rich” schools, boy did they get some BIG funding. A school auction alone could bring in $100,000! One paid for a new gym floor. Another paid for the school nurse. While at the poorer schools they could hardly pay for anything. Of course the complaint is when the district tries to redraw the zone lines and allow some poor kids in or combine some schools and wow, do you see a FIGHT!

What is interesting about your reply and the one from Netherlands is in the US in some wqays schools are moving to where sports and theater are being done by outside groups and NOT thru the school. Soccer, basketball, tennis, gymnastics, and hockey are all examples of private clubs having their own teams and actually in some cases, competing with the schools for players.

We have private theater and music groups also. Ex. Theater for Young Americaand KC Youth Symphony.

Band, especially marching band is interesting. It’s not uncommon for 1/3rd of a high school student body to be involved in some way. I know some towns bands where say their is but ONE high school in town and that band becomes quite the town pride and the whole town pays some big money for the band to go on annual trips. For example, imagine seeing your hometown in the Rose Bowl parade!

In my Montreal suburb, the local elementary school had so many fund raisers that my five year old called it the bake sale and when we took him to register him for kindergarten he was looking for a bake sale. There was no organized music there. There was one teacher who put on a play every year with the 7th (highest) graders. I assumed it was done on the cheap (e.g. plays in the public domain) and the parents were expected to provide costumes. The HS my two older kids went to had no music and no theater, again AFAIK. The youngest went to a different HS and they had a gung ho music teacher who really taught kids to play instruments. They had a bang up jazz band. We did pay once to renovate my son’s sax, but that’s all. After my son graduated, the teacher was transferred and the program collapsed.

Getting back to the elementary school, I assume the money raised in the bake sales was used for class trips. I once went as a chaperone on a trip to the zoo by bus and once on a trip to Ottawa by train.

In Spain PTO Hell Yes; in fact, it is the governing body of the school for matters above a certain level. When there are complaints of serious teacher misbehavior for example that goes before the PTO’s Board (rough translation).

As fundraisers no. Not their job at all.

And as for asking for things such as send snacks for the whole class, that would be completely against the culture. You do send snacks with your kid when it’s their birthday (we keep a similar custom as grown-ups: the least you do is pay for a round of coffee), but because it’s a celebration.

My particular school has always had 10% of students who can’t pay the tuition; anything that shuffled payment from the school to the parents would be a problem to those families. Getting tuition waived so long as you and your child fulfill certain conditions is very different from constantly getting waivers for twenty five different little things; one is considered normal and meritory, the other demeaning. One’s a prize; the other is being a beggar.

I find this figure (20-250 pounds) astounding. Here in Texas, band and football are king and it costs a fortune to play. Parents routinely pony up thousands per child to participate each year. When my kids were in band it was $2000 per kid, and $3000 for drumline. This was in addition to instruments, retreats/team-building for officers, and trips (kids went to Europe one year). Since we had both drum captain and band president in our house, it was quite costly for us.

I just checked with mizPullin, and she says its now $2500 and $3500 for drumline (kids graduated a few years ago and I’m out of the loop, thankfully).

At our primary school, we have an elected School Council on which about 6 or 7 parents sit, plus teachers … possibly plus community reps. Because we’re an affluent middle class area stiff with doctors lawyers and executives, candidate election statements read like freaking professional resumes (I find it a trifle insane. You’re definitely not getting on Council at our school with an ‘I’m a parent at this school and … um … I want to help the school! Vote Me!’ kind of election statement)

Fair Committee is separate, and has about 20 or 30 people. Much less competitive. You can get on Fair Committee by vaguely mumbling ‘you know, maybe I should help with the Fair this year’ somewhere within two hundred metres of the Fair Coordinator. This is because those guys really have to work.

I believe that the bulk of the (considerable) Fair funds goes to subsidising integration aides for special needs kids. Our school is a bit of a magnet school for kids with disabilities, particularly ASD and similar, and though the State government provides funds for aides, we’re way over the number I’d expect to be state funded, based on my knowledge of how strict the criteria are. The State Government also has a “camps sports and excursions” fund to pay excursion fees for low income kids - so nobody ought to be missing out on excursions because they can’t afford it. And as far as I know no-one is.

High School fundraising/parent involvement has been much more sedate for us. They sell school photos, and the school magazine each year. Most expensive-looking extra curriculars like band camp or inter-school competitions are just paid for by whoever’s doing it. School Council’s main job is to stand up for the school against government bureaucracy