Courtney Day

Associated Student Government (ASG) senate approved $6,000 in emergency funding for the Adopt a School program to pay for state-required background checks for its growing number of volunteers.

Adopt a School experienced a 15 percent increase in volunteer enrollment this semester and a 37 percent jump during the past year. 548 Miami University students are part of the program.

Of these, about only 150 serve at partner sites that require criminal background checks annually. The rest work either with people who are not minors or at Talawanda schools, which does not require a background check because of their relationship with Miami and Adopt a School.

“I don’t think we’ve ever had a student fail a background check, but it’s required by the state,” said senior Megan Reardon, director of Adopt a School.

The background checks cost $36 for in-state students and $60 for out-of-state students. Adopt a School covers the fees for students.

“We really work on being accessible,” Reardon said. “We would hate to hinder students from volunteering.”

For this reason, she said, the cost of background checks has been covered by money from the Miami University Parent Council in the past. The parent council budgeted $6,000 this year but because of the influx of volunteers $8,500 has already been used for background checks. More new volunteers are expected to join the program next semester.

“We’ve run into a good problem to have,” Reardon said.

While Reardon, an art education major, is excited about the growth of the program she said, “We would hope that we never have to cap the number of students.”

Reardon said the $6,000 approved by ASG would allow an additional 100 to 160 Miami students to volunteer depending on whether the students are from in state or out of state.

Because the money requested for the program was needed before the start of next semester, Reardon said Adopt a School could not wait until ASG’s funding committee allocates normal cycle 2 funding in January. Instead, she brought the request before the entire senate as an emergency funding request.

After some debate, student senators agreed Adopt a School’s request fell under the category of event funding.

The senate votes based on three criteria for events. Each criterion constitutes 33 percent of the designated funding, said Andrew Ferguson, vice president of student organizations.

Under the first criterion, the event must take place on campus. While Adopt a School has 16 different locations, mostly off-campus, it provides accessible transportation for all volunteers, Reardon said. ASG has established a precedent that providing accessible transportation to a nearby event is equivalent to holding an event on campus.

Secondly, the event must be educational.

“Obviously, it’s educational,” said Sean Jacobson, senator and funding committee member, of Adopt a School. “This is a very positive thing for Miami students to be doing.”

Thirdly, the event must be open to all students.

“Any Miami student in good standing can volunteer,” Reardon said.

While about 100 to 150 students are earning class credit for Introduction to Teaching (EDT 190), Math 115 or Spanish 312 for work with Adopt a School, the program has volunteers from a variety of majors.