Unique website helps get cash into classrooms

Posted at 3:39 PM, Feb 23, 2016
and last updated 2016-02-23 17:29:41-05

Schools and parents are taking a unique approach to dealing with budget cuts without having to spend a dime.

Morenike Testamark is a hands-on mom. So much so, she took a job as school nurse at Lee Elementary Technology in Tampa so she could personally keep a close eye on her daughter's peanut allergy.  

She's also keenly aware of a declining education budget. She stumbled on Schoola, a website created by a former principal in San Francisco. It has taken off nationwide with nearly 20,00 schools taking part.

The concept is simple: Request a prepaid bag, donate gently used clothing, and nearly 40 percent of everything sold goes back to your school.

"We have received some of the money. We have received checks," Testamark said.

"It is a no-brainier. I am so grateful to participate in this program. It really makes a difference," said Lee  Elementary's Principal Beverly Smith, who also has two daughter's at the school.

Smith said for schools like hers, the money goes a long way.

There are a lot of families in need. And money is getting tighter.

Bipartisan advocacy group First Focus found that over the last five years, Congress has slashed education funds by 20 percent. That's five times more than the overall spending cuts.

She's used the school cash for the most basic supplies like pencils.  

"We try to protect our students from knowing we don't have enough to get them everything. We just make do with what we have," Smith said.

Now the school has more than their projected budget and anticipates even more savings thanks to Schoola.

In a buying mood? With 20,000 schools participating nationwide, there are lots of options on the website
and not just for children's clothes, women's too! Most of the clothes are 70 percent less than retail.

"So you can shop on a budget and then get someone in Washington to buy something that I have donated and I can get three of four dollars for my school. Every penny counts and it does go back into your school," said Testamark.