SANTA FE (KRQE) - At a time when budgets have been slashed for New Mexico's schools, one website is making it easy for the community to fill in the gaps—allowing the public to fund school projects directly instead of waiting for legislators to divvy up state money.
Howard Shapiro, a math teacher at Capshaw Middle School, is one of dozens of Santa Fe teachers who turned to Dollars4Schools.org when he realized there wasn't enough money to pay for basic necessities in his classroom.
He posted the plan for his project online, how much he'd need to get it done, and he says parents and community members donated through the website, fully funding supplies for his individualized math program within a month.
"The program needs a lot of consumables like paper and toner," Shapiro says.
And it's important to students like eighth grader Jasmine Baez.
She says Shapiro is the reason she's finally caught up in math after years of struggling.
"I love math now. I like doing it. I want to do more of it because it made it more fun now that I can understand it," Baez says.
The website's development director says "Dollars 4 Schools" funded about 150 projects, at least one for every public school in Santa Fe, since it launched two years ago.
Now there is talk of expanding to more school districts across the state.
Capitol High School Spanish teacher Sonia Sanchez-Cuesta says she used "Dollars 4 Schools" to bring more books into her classroom.
"When I got those books to class, I felt like Santa Claus," she says. "I brought the books and all the kids are like, ‘Where's my book? Where's my book,'"
Donors paid for four of her projects so far.
"It touches something in you when you see the smiles and the big eyes and the kids," Sanchez-Cuesta says.
The leaders behind "Dollars 4 Schools" say they hope to make the site available for districts statewide within this upcoming year and eventually maybe even go national.
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