Evans High School Band Boosters knew they couldn't get state or local taxpayer money to expand their band room, so they decided to raise the money themselves.
"We have what I feel is a great relationship with the school system, and we understand the school system can't provide funding for everyone's wants and desires," said Paul Farrow, president of the Evans High School Band Boosters. "That's why we took it upon ourselves to say, `Hey, we'll appreciate whatever you can do, but we want this and we want it sooner than later.' So this is what we're doing, pursuing the funds."
The plan is to build a new two-wing, two-story addition, and they'll be doing it one square foot at a time.
The boosters are sending out letters to Evans band alumni asking them to donate about $70, the equivalent of 1 square foot.
The boosters are hoping the donations will add up to the $200,000 they need to build the addition.
And there's always the hope that some philanthropist will step up and donate the money.
"What we are trying to do is hit on a donor who wouldn't mind having a building named after them," said band director Richard Brasco, who hopes to have the addition finished before he retires in two years.
It's an ambitious project.
Right now, the account to build the band room consists primarily of a $25,000 state grant received last year and a local pledge of $15,000 from the Columbia County Board of Education.
The current free-standing band building doesn't have restrooms and students are often there after school hours when the main building is locked. Superintendent Tommy Price said the board understands the need for restrooms and agreed to donate that amount to the project.
The Evans High School band room, which is 3,000 square feet, is one of the largest in the district, a fact that has garnered little sympathy in the wake of overcrowding and classroom shortages. But Mr. Brasco said the space in the band room, built five years ago, was maintained when cuts in storage space were made. With 264 students, the school's band program is the largest in the county.
"It's the biggest band room in the district; I don't think there's one in Richmond County that's that big," Mr. Brasco said. "That's the argument that we're getting - that we have a bigger band room than anyone else. But our program is bigger than anyone else's in Columbia County. Aside from having four concert bands and a marching band, we've got four jazz bands and at least eight chamber groups that are performing. Our band room is totally full right now."
Mr. Price has confidence the boosters will ultimately meet their goals.
"The Evans Band is certainly a large band with an outstanding tradition, and they've had strong community support in the past," he said. "The band boosters are a hard-working group, and I have no doubt in my mind that over time, they'll raise the money."
Although parents have often contributed money to buy equipment or supplies for schools, raising private money for construction projects is a rare thing, Mr. Price said.
"It is kind of unusual, but you've got a large number of kids involved with the band, and their parents and they have a common cause," he said.
How to help
If you would like to make a contribution, call Larry Atkinson at 860-5201 or Paul Farrow, 860-0469, or send your contribution to: P.O. Box 1331, Evans, GA 30809.
Reach Melissa Hall at (706) 868-1222, Ext. 113.