Monday, September 24, 2018

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Eau Claire school district committee to look into equity between graduation parties

Organizers confident report will show 2 high schools treated fairly

  • asd

    The Eau Claire school district Administration Building, 500 Main St.

    File photo

  • Mary-Ann-Hardebeck


    Contributed photo

After parents voiced concern over equity between school-sponsored graduation parties at North and Memorial high schools, the Eau Claire school district is assembling a committee to comb over how the two bashes are funded.

“Instead of having one large equity committee in the district, we’ve taken this approach of having specialized committees,” said Mary Ann Hardebeck, schools superintendent. “This is another opportunity to look more deeply at a situation.”

The school board voted to approve the committee at its Monday meeting. Hardebeck said it will look over how donations are split and make sure each school receives an equitable graduation party experience.

The parent or parents who expressed concern to Hardebeck were not available for comment.

Christy Riley-Wittig and Caro Johnson, respective chairwomen of North and Memorial high schools’ graduation parties, don’t think there’s anything to be concerned about, they said. 

“I know that perception has always been that it’s skewed toward one school less than the other,” Johnson said of Memorial and North high schools, noting that the two schools work together when raising funds and collecting donations for graduation parties. “I agree that we should have a transparency board, so (others can know) how we know that it’s fair and equal between both our schools.”

In order to make the graduation celebration happen for students finishing high school each year, North and Memorial begin by sending a letter to businesses the schools have worked with in the past. Those businesses then send donations, either monetary or in the form of physical items such as pizza or gift baskets.

Monetary donations are split based on the number of students at each school, meaning Memorial will receive more because that school currently has roughly 400 more students than North.

Donated items are split equally between the schools. If a businesses donates two gift cards, for example, each school will receive one. If a business only donates one item, Johnson said, then the school that did not receive that donation will get two of something else for balance.

Riley-Wittig said she’s always had a good working relationship with Memorial and is confident that North receives its fair share of funding. She noted that each school has its party at separate locations: North rents out Action City each year, whereas Memorial hosts their grad party at the school.

Riley-Wittig said she’s glad an equity committee is being formed, however, even if only to show district parents how graduation party organizers go about the planning process.

“Hopefully people can see that we’re working together to make sure that it is (equal),” Riley-Wittig said.

Contact: 715-830-5828,, @LaurenKFrench on Twitter

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