This year, we want to give money to DC2’s classes (English and Spanish) to help them purchase items for “differentiation, independent learning, and/or enrichment”. This is mainly because DC2 needs them, at least on English days. (“Mommy, I’m in the green group which means that we have the trickiest problems, but they’re still way too easy. I already know all the sight words from preschool.”) We want this to be anonymous because it’s just weird giving money to public school when DC2 is a member of the class. (We know the Spanish teacher already incorporates differentiation, at least in second semester from our class observation last Spring. The English teacher does a little bit according to DC2, but maybe not enough for DC2 right now.)
When we did this back when DC1 was in Kindergarten in private school, it was super easy, we just wrote a check along with a little note outlining the particulars of the gift. Since we were already paying tuition to the private school we were also able to talk to the teacher about what her ideas were and make sure the money would be of interest even given the strings attached (that it be for differentiation/independent learning activities).
This time DH called up the front desk and they said they couldn’t take directed donations of money, only general donations for the entire grade, but to contact the PTO president to see if she could help. After some back and forth with her, the PTO president reiterated that she could only take donations for the entire grade and they would go towards defraying the cost of field trips, but she’d get in contact with the Assistant Principal on our behalf. After a couple of weeks of not hearing from her, DH emailed the school Principal directly. A couple days later the school principal emailed back and offered the following options:
- Write a check to the school and the teachers would be told they could use that money, but only through the district’s preferred vendors. The vendors are not actually that great, so their ability to make purchases would be pretty limited.
- Provide several gift cards for Amazon/Walmart/Target so they have more options for what to purchase (though this also is limiting, and we might not get the amounts right).
- Provide gift cards for cash from Visa/Amex/Mastercard. This would be the least limiting of the choices.
Oh gentle grumpy nation, I have been trying so hard to get #3 to work. But we want to get two $500 gift cards (one for each class) and Target/Walmart only carry Visa in $200 or less denominations, and it costs $6-7 to get one. You can’t order Visa gift cards directly from Visa and we don’t belong to one of their participating banks that waives fees. AmEx looked really promising with a flat $4 fee per $500 card until I tried to check out and realized there was an additional $8.95 shipping charge on top of that*. But maybe it’s worth it since to get Visa cards at Target or Walmart we’d be paying $24 just to get $800 in gift cards. (Mastercard is not an option because they start making the money disappear once there’s inactivity.)
I might be able to waive some fees if I wait for October’s promotion codes to show up somewhere– September’s AmEx promo code got rid of shipping costs but they’ve since expired.
Or we could just write a check and they’d be limited to the list of preferred vendors, none of which I’ve heard of. (I have to wonder what kind of grift is going on there…)
Anyway, I’m leaning towards paying the exorbitant fees for turning plastic credit money into anonymous plastic gift money so that they can use the money wherever they want (albeit, maybe only places that take AmEx…). Though with a minimum of $17 in fees, it’s tempting to go with Amazon cards since you can buy most things on Amazon. Except, you can’t buy everything on Amazon.
We have our first (15 min) parent teacher conference uh… today.
*Looks like they regularly have online discounts for things like shipping fees, but October’s wasn’t up yet when I wrote this post.
What would you do, Grumpeteers?