If you have students in a private school, you probably have a school auction problem. If there's a church attached to the school, that problem might be more complicated. I assume not all schools use the funds from the auction for the same purposes, but it does seem to be part of a budget that might already include you feeling like you pay for everything. And that's probably because you do--that's what a private school is all about. So how to handle the auction.

We were part of a school in Kansas that was declining a bit as a school, but the church side was hugely supportive, especially when it came to the auction. It raised about four times the money of our current school auction, but some of the reason was built into certain decisions that were made. The auction should not be relied on as guaranteed income, but if you find a formula that works, that's great.

Our school last year focused on hand-made class items to be sold. Crafty stuff that cost nothing. A parent would buy it and then often donate it to a classroom or teacher. That's pretty generous, to pay $50 for a bunch of fingerpaint, only to give it away. The next school we were at had classroom parents buying an item to be sold at the auction. So one class might say that every parent needs to give $10 or $20 for the item. So people are buying $200 items with parents' money in the hopes that someone might pay $300 for it. So the parents pay a total of $500 for the item, and the school gets $300, but it really feels more like $100 to parents in the class. I know it's a good time for some parents to show off that they're high-rollers, but they can also do that by bidding $100 for a class project.

Our last school also had a few parents who worked in jobs where they could get discounted items that they purchased and then offered to the auction. I assume the next school has the same kind of thing. It can be a good way to get your home business out there. I think there was also a solid network established with local businesses willing to donate items at that school. Basically, the auction was jam-packed.

The school also had several teacher items, wherein a teacher would give an experience with a student. I liked that idea, even if it was a little bit of a hassle for my wife/teacher. She offered to take a kid and parent to a arboretum, but going to an art museum or the zoo would also work. I'd just tell the teachers to focus on something they like to do or have a membership to get in free. Some teachers had one or two kids over for dinner and a movie. That kind of stuff. Again, very little money laid out and a decent return. I think my wife raised $50+ for the school, and our membership got the group into the arboretum for free.


There was also some kind of rapid-fire bidding to give to the scholarship fund. I don't even remember how it went, but I know we were shamed into at least giving the lowest amount. Some people just kept on giving more. These people were excited about giving.

The last school's auction also had a principal challenge. This raised a lot of money for the principal to do something or other. It was just everyone giving as much as they cared toward a total. I didn't care to give anything because I had learned to dislike the principal a bit, but people seemed to want the kids to see this person do something silly. Somewhat related was the principal for a day. One kid got to make up rules and sit in the desk for part of the day.

All told, that school, similar in size to our next school, raised enough money to pretty much pay for a teacher each year. But it had a lot to do with the fact that well over 50% of the kids went to the church, and probably closer to 75% of their grandparents or parents were members of the church at some point. The next school is less than 20% church kids. Sure, some parents might spend a little at the auction, but the grandparents won't be there to put the auction to bed.

Another issue that might come up would be church parents who are not school parents. They might technically support the school, and they might feel like it's the thing to do, but that's not really the case. Our church in Wisconsin kind of invited all church parents and kids to an auction-like festival that was so centered on the school that it made us very uncomfortable as non-school parents at that point. It's better to just make it clear what the purpose of the auction is, even though you DO want church members to get involved. If you only have 20% of the school coming from the church, that church needs to know how important the outreach is, and the auction should acknowledge this.

Jacksonville News

New Jax Witty

Articles, reviews, advice, and legitimate research to go along with some back-handed comments. Think of us as Jacksonville's mother-in-law.
  • Only In Florida: Millionaire Stealing From Kmart
    Where else would a guy who owns an $8 million private island and a Real World House decide to steal from Kmart? Nowhere else. Only in Florida. I thought that it was uniquely Florida when three guys walked right into a Walmart and stole the arcade claw machine, loading it into their pickup truck as if they were going to service it. But those guys were probably unemployed or at least poor, so it was just a badly-hatched plan. So was the plan to buy items at Kmart and then return different items in the boxes. But the Kmart plan was devised by a guy with enough capital to purchase an $8 million island, so it's even more odd.

    With how easily the man was caught, I have to assume he was not a career store scammer. There's no way that someone who tries to steal $300 from Kmart (minus the value of the items that were returned in the boxes) has pulled it off enough to become a millionaire.

    Maybe he figured he'd be safe once on his own island. He could use his new Keurig every morning as he watched the sunrise over the ocean. I assume his new island didn't have a basketball court, since that's the item he stuffed into the coffee maker box when it was returned.

    Normally, people who become millionaires don't steal small stuff, unless it's lots of small stuff, like fraudulent billing of patients of your healthcare company. I wonder if this man can plead the 5th and get out of any responsibility for stealing from Kmart. Perhaps that's all it takes to get away with stealing when you're rich; I wouldn't know.

    Anyhow, no man is an island entire of himself. He needs stuff, even if he is technically living on a private island. I suppose the monthly mortgage on an $8 million island might get a little steep. At 20% down on a 30-year loan, the island would run $30,260 a month. That's probably about what an average Kmart sells in a month. I'm kidding, I think. This guy was probably just strapped for cash after having spent over $1.5 million on a down payment, so he needed some necessities, like a Keurig coffee machine.
  • Followed Home in Jacksonville
    A neighbor was recently followed home by a white SUV, and the comments on Nextdoor were all over the place. I think there are several angles to consider here, even though most of the people commenting were fairly single-minded in how they saw the situation.

    Call the Police
    Most reactions were that of calling the police. This was 1:30 in the morning, and a man was being followed all the way to his home, and when the man turned away, he was also followed right up to the point he entered a 24-hour gas station. One comment was to call the police while being followed. That's good advice, so long as you weren't drinking at your friend's house until 1:30, which I have to assume was the case. When the police show up to help you out, the white SUV will be long gone, and you'll be asked to exit the vehicle for a little test.

    Back in Milwaukee, my car got broken into while I was at a friend's house. We yelled at the kids as they tried to hotwire the car, and then called the police as they ran away. We'd been drinking a little bit, so it was surprising that the cops got the car fully hotwired for me and sent me on my way, broken back window and all. That was 20 years ago and in Milwaukee (Beer Capital of America). I don't expect any breaks like this in Jacksonville, so my advice would be to do exactly what this guy did if you've had a couple of drinks.

    Ask The Police
    Another theory is that the car was an undercover police car "running tags." These folks suggested the man call the police and ask. The problem is that since following someone around and running the tags is probably illegal, even if that was happening, I doubt it would be confirmed. Therefore, asking the police would not get a definitive answer.

    I've personally seen this happen, back in suburban Milwaukee. Cruisers would be at a stop light behind a car and on a laptop. Even though it was considered to be against the rules, it probably happened all the time when those computers were first installed. I think this behavior has been cracked down on to some extent, but an officer might still follow a car with a broken tail light just to see if the driver seems to be swaying around in his lanes, especially at 1:30am.

    Be Relieved
    One neighbor, to the consternation of most other neighbors, said that there was no proof the occupants of the car were up to no good. It's certainly true that no obvious crime occurred, even if most of us would consider following someone at 1:30am to be unacceptable, criminal-like behavior. If nothing else, the intent was to frighten the man. Whether it was a criminal, a cop, or a concerned citizen, when you follow someone all the way home at that hour, you want to frighten the person (or sneak up behind him). Georgia has a stalking law that might be applicable here, but I did not see one for Florida, where stalking is more about "a person who willfully, maliciously, and repeatedly follows, harasses, or cyberstalks" someone else. That means that criminals can legally stalk a dozen potential victims each day and never be breaking any law.

    Man or Woman, Do This
    If this kind of thing happens to you, it might seem to make sense to get home. The problem here is that you are leading someone to your house, even if they bail. They might now assume you work a late shift. Maybe they were following you to seek revenge for cutting them off, and they'll tag your garage door later on. And maybe, they'll be faster to the weapon than you.

    Therefore, it's recommended that you lead them back out of your neighborhood, just like the man in the story did. Take them to a public place and call the cops. If you're a little intoxicated, maybe wake up a dozen friends and round up the posse. I'd try to get to a public place where I know there are obvious cameras mounted. Even when you get somewhere more public, it's probably not a good idea to reach for your gun or tire iron right away. At least fake dial and talk on your phone before you get out of the car. You could probably hit the old panic button on the car, too, since noise tends to ward off criminals. At least I'd do some of that stuff before I decide to escalate the situation.