Tallahassee considers allowing residents to donate school supplies instead of paying parking tickets

Published: Jul. 16, 2019 at 5:20 PM EDT
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By: Monica Casey | WCTV Eyewitness News

July 16, 2019

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) -- The City of Tallahassee is looking into the possibility of allowing parking violators to pay their ticket fee in donations of school supplies for one month out of the year.

The program was created by the City of Las Vegas; residents there who receive parking tickets can donate new, unwrapped school supplies that are equal to or greater than the value of their parking ticket. Those donations must also include a receipt, and can only be for non-public safety violations.

City Commissioner Dianne Williams-Cox introduced the idea at the most recent City Commission meeting, after grades for schools in the Leon County School District were released.

The donations of school supplies in different areas of the district could put children at all schools on a more level playing field.

"I was like that's a great idea why don't we do that!" said Commissioner Williams-Cox, after learning of the Las Vegas program. "We can't do it all the time of course, but have a specified period of time, a month or whatever to do that. I think this fall would be a good time to pilot that, and I'm hoping that our City Manager will get with staff and help us to get it done"

In FY2018, the parking tickets generated $250,000 of revenue for the City of Tallahassee.

Current and former Tallahassee residents think this would be a positive program for the area.

Edward Butler is a great-grandfather and has experience with putting children through school.

"I think that's a good idea, you know it'll definitely help the kids in schools get the materials that they need a lot faster," said Butler.

Calla Weddington is originally from Tallahassee, and now lives in Hawaii. She heard about the possible program when visiting family in the capital city.

"There's definitely a shortage of school supplies," said Weddington. "She [her daughter] is starting kindergarten this year, and it would definitely help with all the expenses that we have."

School Board Member Darryl Jones also liked the idea of the program.

"It's that type of innovation that's going to help us to have sustained improvements in our school, that will be long lasting," said Jones.

Jones also said community investment such as this is what will help Leon County District schools stay steady in their improvement, without fluctuating.

Commissioner Williams-Cox hopes to bring the program to Tallahassee as early as this fall.

"Because everyone is doing a back to school drive, so why not let those who find themselves on the wrong side of parking, help us with that by providing school supplies," said Williams-Cox.

Residents said it's a small change for them that could make a big difference.

"It would just be great if something as menial as parking tickets went to helping children," said Weddington.

"That just shows the spirit that we have here in Tallahassee, people willing to help out others that don't have it," said Butler.

In Las Vegas, the items go to the Teacher Exchange Nonprofit with the Public Education Foundation. The supplies must be donated within 30 days of the citation date.

The details of this possible Tallahassee program have not yet been fully worked out.

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