Texas Principal Criticized for Funding School's Poodle

 |  Sep 29th 2006  |   2 Contributions


What an interesting argument to have at a school! Sounds like Buddy the Poodle is more use to the children than a lot of other expenses at the school.

This school yard scuffle comes to us from Star Community Newspapers.

School funds used for dog come under question

By Stephanie Hutson, Staff Writer

It doesnt seem like a prim-and-proper white poodle should cause such a fuss, but Lakeside Elementarys school pet, Buddy, has some parents questioning the principals allocation of funds to the dogs expenses.

Lakesides principal, Mark Lukert, stands by the schools spending and approached the microphone at Tuesday nights public meeting with a standing ovation from the crowd of more than 150.


This little bite will not get [me] down, Lukert said. I have been doing this 30 years and it was my idea to get Buddyand I am not willing to say no because one or two people have voiced their concern.

A gym-full of teachers, parents and residents attended the public meeting Tuesday to hear explanations from school officials and ask questions regarding spending on the schools pet, Buddy, given to the school by a parent in May 2005.

Lukert, who lives in Wichita Falls and rents an apartment in Coppell, said he could not afford the dogs expenses. Buddys immunizations, grooming, surgical expense for a broken hip and school pictures were paid out of the schools discretionary activity fund. Daily expenses, such as food and treats have been covered by Lukert.

According to the CISD Chief Financial Officer Ralph Seely, a total of $2,331 has been spent on Buddy, all from the activity fund or donations from the Buddy Box under the principals discretionary control. More than $1,200 of that was for a hip surgery to correct an injury Buddy sustained riding in Lukerts car.

Activity fund money can be used for students, teachers and other campus-related activities, Lukert said.

According to Seely, no district guidelines have been broken. Revenue in the activity fund comes mostly from school pictures, vending machines and PTO donations, and is at the discretion of the principal to spend to promote the general welfare of each school and the morale of the students, the policy states.

As long as its legal, its up to the principals how they spend it, Seely said.

Buddy stays with Lukert at night and travels home to Wichita Falls with him on the weekends.

However, there is a waiting list of teachers and parents for a Buddy sleep over, Lukert said.

Lukert originally decided to adopt Buddy as the school dog because of research he read showing the positive effect pets have on students. In the two years Buddy has been at Lakeside, Lukert said he has seen satisfying results.

He has a calming effect on kids, Lukert said. For example, a student got hurt on the playground and Buddy was brought into the nurses office, and seeing Buddy distracted the student from his injury and he immediately stopped crying.

In addition to morale, Lukert said Buddy also helps students academically.

Students practice their reading with Buddy, Lukert said. Students read to him and he just listens. He doesnt criticize, and he doesn't care if the student reads slowly, he just listens. Overall, Buddy makes the students feel happy.

In addition to Lukert, many teachers and parents feel money spent on Buddy is well worth it. Music teacher Tamara Lee told stories of the impact Buddy has had on her classes.

He is the one common thing that unifies every student at Lakeside n he is something every single student has a part in, Lee said.

But not everyones feelings about Buddy are warm and furry. Carol Greenia said Lukert and the school PTO told her no PTO money was spent on Buddy, a statement she believes is false.

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