School Board Chairman to Match ‘Settle the Debt’ Effort for 2018

| November 28, 2017 | 0 Comments | Education

Pupils in school cafeteria being served lunch by dinner ladies. Copyright photo.

“Settle the Debt” is on again for 2018 and has just received a match offer.

School Board Chairman At-large Ryan Sawyers will match up to a $1,000 in donations as contribution to funds donated by Dec. 2.

Settle the Debt is a GoFundMe effort to pay down students’ lunch debts in Prince William County Public Schools. It was organized by Gainesville citizen Adelle Settle last spring, soon after she moved into the county.

The GoFundMe page is called “Help PWC Kids Pay For Lunch.”

In PWCS, students can purchase school lunches even if they do not have money on them that day in cash or on their lunch cards. Those students accrue a debt their parents will have to settle. If the debts are not settled by August, those in debt $50 or more to the school division get sent to collections.

Settle wanted to help parents pay back that debt, especially those for whom doing so would be a difficult burden. She asked residents to make donations to the cause via a GoFundMe page. Soon, the effort attracted local and regional media attention, prompting more people to donate.

The effort was successful, and Settle raised just under $25,000 to pay off the students’ lunch debts. Twenty-three thousand was raised via the GoFundMe page. She raised $1,700 prior to that through her own network of friends and family.

The funds raised paid off 300 children’s accounts, keeping them out of collections. Since there was a total of $300,000 in debt across all schools in the county, Settle’s collection prioritized the most in need: those who had debts of $50 or more and who also qualified for free lunch in the coming year.

Now, Settle has decided to resume the effort for 2018 and has an ambitious goal: “no families sent to collections in PWCS for being unable to pay their lunch debts.”

She has raised $1,395 since October with numbers increasing rapidly. She is hoping to raise $40,000, if not more, towards the 2018 debt. Last time, she began the charitable effort in spring. Now, she believes getting an early start on the effort can result in an even better result.

Sawyers has offered to match approximately $1,000 in new donations over the next few days, announcing his match, Nov. 28, ‘Giving Tuesday.’ “Public schools shouldn’t lead parents to debt collectors,” Sawyers posted on his Facebook page.

Adelle Settle and her daughter. (Photo credit Justin Settle.)

Within hours over $500 was raised that Sawyers would have to match.

Settle is appreciative of Sawyers’ proposed donation and that his’ effort have brought attention to her campaign. However, she does not want the collection effort to become political, but to stay focused on the needs of the students.

“This effort transcends politics. Republicans and Democrats alike have helped me work towards a solution. Danica Roem, Ryan Sawyers, Bob Marshall, and members of the school board who may not see eye to eye on so many things agree that solving this problem is in the best interest of students and have been supportive,” Settle said.

Settle believes that the effort will be stronger when the community comes together. “I look forward to working with anyone who would like to help, because solving childhood hunger is an issue that everyone can get behind.”

© 2017, Bristow Beat. All rights reserved.

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