A school superintendent in North Dakota, who once bought ice cream bars for the entire student body, has given up his plan to raffle a car to a lucky high school student.
The school board in Washburn, N.D., recently put the brakes on Superintendent Wes Kessler's plan for rewarding a student for improving grades, attending class and participating in activities.
"As a parent, I think I'm the one who should motivate my kid," school board member JuDee Simpfenderer said.
Kessler announced at the beginning of the year that he would offer a $7,000 Ford Escort in a raffle for high school students. He wanted to give each student three entries, with chances to add more--or have them taken away--based on their performance.
An identical program is offered to students of junior high age for a $1,000 savings bond.
Washburn, 35 miles northwest of Bismarck, has 500 students in one school for grades 1 through 12.
The school board said it tabled Kessler's car idea Monday because of a legal opinion from Gary Thune, an attorney for the North Dakota School Board Assn.
"The opinion had nothing to do with the fact it was a car being given," Thune said. "A substantive amount of school money was being used to provide awards to a student. I don't think there's state authority for that."
Kessler, who has been with the district for 12 years, said no tax money would have been used. He wanted to use money he raised by playing records, selling hamburgers and soft drinks and charging $2 to get into school dances.
The money has been put in an activity fund used for expenses such as paint for school lockers, a fence around the school's track and motivational speakers.
But the money also has paid for ice cream bars for the entire student body and to send the boys' choir to an Oak Ridge Boys concert in Bismarck. Once he hired an airplane to fly a banner over town as the girls' basketball team left for a state tournament, and at last year's Christmas party, bought gifts for students.
"I raised that money and I wanted to designate where it's spent," he told the Bismarck Tribune. "This school is my life and I want to give something back."
"Good teaching is one-fourth preparation and three-fourths theater."