The easton area community coalition summary of ideas and recommendations april 15 2014
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The easton area community coalition summary of ideas and recommendations april 15 2014




April 15, 2014



Over the past two and a half months, the EASD CC solicited and received ideas on how to generate revenue and cut costs in an effort to help close the current budget gap through a series of three Community Nights hosted in various venues around the EASD, a district employee night, our website’s submission forms, and our group’s Facebook page.  

Compiled in the following pages are the results of those submissions, the major ones having been researched and annotated to include the Coalition’s recommendations on implementing each and justification for why each is a relevant and viable option for right now.

These ideas, of course, have value because they generate revenue or cut costs in some way, allowing the money earned to enhance or support specific programs. If earmarked money for particular programs ends up not being needed, that money then stays in the reserves and at the district’s disposal. 

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Key ideas


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Easd affinity credit card


THE IDEA: Many banks offer “Affinity” Credit Cards bearing a logo, mascot, or something easily recognizableof a given organization. Many charitable organizations offer such accounts through partnerships with banks, including Colleges, Universities AND both Public and Private School Districts.


  • Users cards reflect specific designs or Logo’s which are easily recognizable.

  • Banks offering “Affinity” accounts agree to provide a specified percentage of users purchases as a donation to Affiliated organization. The donation amounts vary by bank, but generally range from 0.3% to 1% of account holder purchases.

  • Some banks may provide initial account activation bonuses to the organization ranging from $20 upwards to $50 upon initial activation and use of a new “Affinity” account. Note that more users and larger charges can generate additional revenue.

  • Local businesses could offer discounts to customers using an Easton Area School District/Foundation for the EASD Affinity Card for their purchases. This could increase card use and subsequent revenue for the district.

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Easd affinity credit card continued



The district should work with the EASD Foundation to coordinate with a bank of their choice to establish an Affinity Credit Card that benefits either the Foundation or the district directly.

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Credit card rewards programs


THE IDEA: Many credit cards offer users rewards programs with either cash back options, or cash value points for spending. Most of these rewards programs offer account holders the option to use their cash back/points to donate to a charitable organization of their choice, yet only to a pre-registered charitable organization.

  • Many rewards programs offer around 2% of the purchases in “rewards”

  • Some rewards programs offer specials where “rewards” for certain purchases can be upwards of 5% for purchases such as gas or groceries.

  • Donations via some rewards programs can be tax deductible, although not all

  • Based on 500 account holders spending $500 per month earning 2% rewards, potential annual donations of $60K.


    Request The Foundation for Easton Schools register the non-profit organization with any/all banks who offer their account holders a rewards type program where said account holders are afforded the opportunity to provide a charitable donation with their rewards. The district should, in turn, actively promote any such partnership.

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Point of sale opportunities


THE IDEA: There is an opportunity to generate revenue through point-of-sale (POS) programs at local retailers and establishments.


Shoppers are asked to donate $1 or more at check-out to a designated charity. The cashier then scans a sheet reflecting the desired donation amount. The charity then receives a check for the total donated.


Once a year, Wegman’s cashiers ask customers as they're checking out if they'd like to add a small donation to their order, with 100% of it going to help their local food bank. In 2011, customers and employees at 22 stores in NJ, VA, MD, and Eastern Pennsylvania, customers gave a total of $685,589.

Customers and employees in Wegman’s Rochester, NY-area stores also gave generously in a fall 2011 campaign, raising $674,181. The remaining 33 Wegman’s stores in Buffalo, Syracuse, the Southern Tier and parts of Pennsylvania conducted their annual campaigns in February. They raised over $901,000.

Check Out Hunger scanning campaigns raised a total of $2.2 million at Wegmans in 2010. Since this program began in 1993, Wegman’s has raised more than $16 million for hunger relief.

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Pos opportunities continued



1. We feel that a partnership with the Foundation for the Easton Area School District would allow for the district to apply for these programs with relatively little effort and substantial financial returns. As such, the district should look to secure five such opportunities over the next school year with local businesses in a variety of categories such as:

  • Grocery Stores

  • Restaurants

  • Convenience Stores

  • Gas Stations

  • Department Stores

  • Pharmacy Chains

  • Banks

    2. The Coalition recommends targeted POS campaigns to benefit specific programs such as music, art, technology, sports, libraries, and the like and rotate them accordingly to appeal to different segments of the local population.

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Pos opportunities continued1



3. An alternative POS model is currently in place at local Giant supermarkets. The “bonus card” program has garnered $17,136.51 to date this school year with little or no promotion of the program. The dubbed “A+ School Rewards Program” gives local schools a percentage of purchases after the bonus card has been scanned. Parents are responsible for registering their bonus cards with the program each and every school year.

We strongly recommend promoting this program in earnest, making parents more aware of the financial benefits of participation. Part of the awareness campaign needs to inform parents they must enroll each and every year.

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Pos opportunities continued2


The below local businesses identify education as a focus for their Charitable Giving:

  • NOTES:

  • In 2010, Target announced plans to give $1 billion for education by the end of the 2015 fiscal year, with a significant portion helping more U.S. children read proficiently by the end of third grade. In 2012, Target donated $98 million for education.

  • In 2012, together with its employees and retirees, Exxon Mobil Corporation, its divisions and affiliates, and ExxonMobil Foundation provided $256 million in contributions worldwide, of which $116 million was dedicated to education.

  • Since its inception, the The Dollar General Literacy Foundation has awarded more than $86 million to nonprofit organizations and schools that have helped more than 4.9 million individuals advance their literacy and basic education skills.

  • In 2013, Wells Fargo donated $81.6 million to 8,000 educational programs and schools around the U.S.

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Easd retail opportunities


THE IDEA:Many members of the community suggested having the district operate a store that would allow for community members to buy district related merchandise direct from the district and have all profits go back to the district.


Harness creative opportunities for the district to open and operate a ground-based store that sells a variety of district related and created products. Product concepts could include:

  • Items created by the Art Programs, Cooking Programs, and other credit and extracurricular based programs.

  • Pencils, notebooks, school supplies.

  • Sports and club related merchandise.

  • Aseparate and continuously operating thrift store run by parents and community members with 100% of the proceeds going to the district.

  • Exclusive merchandise, such as a one-time-only, limited edition Easton/Phillipsburg football rivalry sweatshirt.

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1. We feel that real and sustained revenue generating opportunities are available through retail opportunities such as one or multiple district store locations. We recommend this option be explored immediately.

2. An online component could easily be set up to help receive orders via the internet with pickup at the store’s location or having students take the items home with them. In special cases, items could also be shipped through the mailroom for an added fee. We recommend this option be pursued immediately.

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Grant repository


THE IDEA: Grants were a recurring topic at all Community Nights, in addition to the Teacher & Faculty Meeting. Many thought a full-time grant writer for the district would be a lucrative option. However, some of the challenges associated with grants and grant writing that were discussed include:

  • It is difficult to find grant opportunities. Information is very fragmented.

  • Grant writing requires practice and special training.

  • Execution after a grant is secured can be difficult for various reasons.


    We feel that a repository for grants would be a major asset to the district. The information can be housed on the district’s website, perhaps accessible through an intranet. Or, we can look to provide this space on the Coalition website. The idea is to cull all available information, compile it in one place and inform staff and teachers about this resource.

    We recommend partnering with local colleges to assist in finding and writing grants with a designated employee within the district to provide any needed internal information and to assist with execution after a grant is secured. Enlisting the help of EASD High School AP Seniors could be an option as well.

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Regional partnerships


THE IDEA: Understanding that EASD’s financial challenges are part of a systemic problem facing school districts throughout Pennsylvania, and b) of significance to many industry, business, education and public sectors throughout the entire region,  the Coalition recognizes that it may be beneficial to cooperate with regional planning and economic development organizations to identify those economic and social trends and developments that are of mutual interest to the district and development bodies, and to find ways to address these areas jointly.  Some of these organizations offer consulting services that may be of help to the district. 

  • The Lehigh Valley Planning Commission undertakes extensive regional housing and demographic studies that can help the district map long-term projected growth; LVPC recently submitted an extensive plan to the Allentown School District, and can provide similar services at no cost to the Easton Area School District.  

  • The Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corporation can provide a salient business and industry perspective and may be a helpful organizing partner. 

    RECOMMENDATION: The Coalition and district should work closely with these bodies, beginning with the organization of a regional conference or council for the exchange of information and resources, to foster regional planning and advocacy that would benefit districts throughout the Lehigh Valley. 

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Expense and fund recovery


THE IDEA: School districts deal with large, complicated expenses and mistakes and overpayments can be made in the favor of utilities and vendors. Recovery might be an option. Suggestions on expense and fund recovery include:

  • Analysis of utility, telecommunication, and other bills by an outside firm to find errors toward recovering funds and overpayments.

  • Consultation and advice on the prevention of future overpayments

  • Strategies for cost savings provided by analysis of expenses


    We recommend that the district explore the use of firms that specialize in expense and fund recovery and billing analysis to recover money. We also recommend the use of a firm that can provide this service without upfront costs, with fees paid upon recovery as a percentage.

    Possible Resources:

    *The Eric Ryan Corporation

    APR Recovery

    Stratos Solutions, Inc. Expense Recovery

    *Pennsylvania Headquarters, with references available specific to PA schools.

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State and federal resources


THE IDEA: We need to look outside of Easton and consider the bigger picture. PA public schools lost almost $1 billion in state funding last year. There are many resources at the state and federal levels to be recouped but also gains to be made from changes in the way state and federal governments are conducting education-related business. Changes in the way corporations are taxed could bring in substantial revenue as well, which could then be utilized for public education.


The district should play a key role, in conjunction with the EASD Community Coalition, in educating and mobilizing local politicians and community members to do the following:

  • Push for changes to state funding formulas

  • Push for changes in the way charter schools are funded

  • Push for tax-related changes such as the Delaware Loophole Tax and a tax on fracking companies

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Good news pr strategy


THE IDEA: The district celebrate and promote its many accomplishments and achievements by putting out a newsletter that focuses on the entire district and all of the positive things that are happening in each pocket of it.


In an effort to maintain widespread community pride and support , an e-newsletter can be developed immediately and circulated monthly (possibly once a term to start). The EASD is widely known for its top notch academic and extracurricular programs. In addition, the staff and students of the district are often working on innovative and dynamic programs. Community members, too, have rallied around the district to help maintain and grow the many amazing elements of the district. A newsletter that shares and celebrates the district should be developed and focus on these items. For example, a monthly newsletter could highlight such items as:

  • Student achievements at various schools

  • Teacher and staff accomplishments

  • Community fundraising efforts

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Good news pr strategy continued



1. We recommend having various students, groups, and schools throughout the district participate in submitting good news for the purpose of publication.

2. We further recommend the establishment of a “Good News PR” team that edits, publishes, and distributes the e-newsletter.

3. Finally, in an effort to have that those outside of the district community be reached, a combination of social networking and media exposure outlets to advertise the paper’s existence must be made. Taxpayers without children or relatives in the district will surely feel good about seeing what their money is supporting.

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Highlights of ideas from the community


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THE IDEAS: Many ideas were presented that fall under the area of efficiency standards. These included:

1. Utilize less paper

  • Parents to be given option to opt out of paper communications in exchange for email notifications

  • Mandatory Direct Deposit/Paperless checks for employees

  • Email report cards

    2. More efficient recycling

    3. Energy Savings (Electricity, Fuel, etc.)

  • Installation of more dimmer switches and motion lights

  • School buses be stored in a more central location within the district

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Monetizing district assets


THE IDEAS: Many community members felt that there were opportunities to generate revenue around assets currently owned by the district. Ideas include:

1. Selling seats in auditoriums to individuals. Names to be placed on a small plaque, much like the State Theatre, for a fee.

2. Naming rooms, halls, cafeterias, libraries, gyms, etc. after major donors or corporate sponsors.

  • Utilization of school properties to provide after-care programs for students M-F.

  • Rental of district facilities, including indoor spaces, fields, and parking lots to third parties

    5. Corporate advertising in stadiums, on buses

    6. Capitalizing on major sporting events such as the Easton/P’burg Football Game:

    • Sell advertising on the 50-yard-line

    • POS option to add $1.00 to cash purchases made at the game

    • Sell ads during the online stream of the game

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THE IDEA: Trademark the phrase “Easton Red Rovers” to generate revenue. According to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), it is legal for public schools to trademark logos, mascots, or images. Key points include:

  • Current use of the phrase “Easton Red Rover” is not trademarked, either nationally or within the state of PA, according to the USPTO and the Pennsylvania Department of State (Bureau of Corporations & Charitable Organizations).

  • “Easton Red Rovers” has been used on t-shirts and other apparel and sold locally at Wal-Mart and Giant. Giant states that the company Ohiopyle Prints manufactures the apparel.

  • To generate revenue from a trademark, usage must be monitored, enforced and negotiated via legal channels.

  • The current EASD policy states that all trademarked logos, images, and other related items must be allowed free use within and outside of the district, so long as such use does not defame the school district.


    Considering the EASD policy allowing free use of the phrase, we recommend pursuing a trademark if current policy can be reformed and provided the Board sees fit to use their legal resources in this manner, as this may be an opportunity to generate revenue.

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Lafayette college


THE IDEAS: Two-ideas surfaced through our process:

  • Partner with Lafayette College to sponsor multiple programs and clubs within the district, such as the Recycling Club or Math Clubs.

  • Bring in volunteers through the Landis Center for teacher support throughout the district. The Landis Center conducts background checks on volunteers to ensure safety for all involved.


    We recommend making inroads with folks at Lafayette College to create partnerships and devise strategies that are mutually beneficial.

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Future plans for the easd cc


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Future plans for the easd cc1


As a Coalition, we stand behind the value of these ideas and the concept that community members pulling together for the greater good, can accomplish a great many things.  As we look beyond this current budget, we understand the future holds it fair share of challenges for the district.  Rising pension obligations and a lack of state funding formula require that our Coalition remain proactive rather than reactive in its efforts and, to that end, we are setting to work this summer to do the following:

  • Recruit volunteers heavily, seeking full integration into all of the communities within Easton.

  • Communicate more intimately with citizens and community leaders as opposed to the more broad- scale community events, reaching people where they live and work, and understanding and communicating  their needs and challenges to the district.

  • Continue to investigate ideas submitted through community and faculty nights, the website, FB page and email.

  • Expand and develop our website,, to serve as a hub for the community to learn about Coalition initiatives, become involved and educate themselves on education-related policy.

    Our current work and our future plans are all done with a singular purpose—to preserve the amazing programs and wonderful teachers that have made this district something to be proud of for generations.  

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