City of Chelsea donates more than $1 million to schools over 12 years

By CHRISTINE BOATWRIGHT / Staff Writer

CHELSEA – The Chelsea City Council budgeted to donate more than $1 million to Chelsea schools during the past 12 years, and in 2011, it will achieve this goal.

“The money comes from our general budget. It’s a line item in our budget that we donate $20,000 to the five schools within our city limits, and then we also have Mt Laurel, to which we donate $10,000 each year,” Chelsea Mayor Earl Niven said.

“At the beginning of each school year, we donate (an additional) $5,000 to each of the five schools for start-up supplies for our teachers,” he said. “The schools take the money and divide it among the teachers to buy supplies for their classrooms.”

Additionally, the city council decided to donate an extra $15,000 to the schools in order to provide the booster club with the funds necessary to build a field house for the high school, complete with bathrooms and a concession stand, Niven said.

In 2000, the city council budgeted to donate $30,000 to schools, and decided to continue the trend. Due to an increase in sales taxes over the past 12 years, the city council has been able to double and triple these donations, Councilmember Juanita Champion said. In 2011, the council plans to donate $130,000, which will round out the 12-year total amount of donations to $1,030,400.

Each school’s principal meets with the Chelsea mayor each year to report how the money is spent within the walls of the school.

“One school uses the money to pay the salary of the computer technician. Others house reading programs that have been funded by the donations,” Niven said. “We do not specify how they use it, we just say use it for school projects that will benefit our children.

“We’re very supportive (of our schools). I was a high school teacher, as was Ms. Champion. We have teachers well-represented in the city government,” Niven said. “It was not hard to gain their support for the supporting of our schools.”