MONTGOMERY COUNTY, Va. (WDBJ7) When snow is in the forecast, parents and students alike are looking for whether or not school is cancelled. But new this year, for one county, is sponsored school closings on social media.
Domino’s Pizza in the New River Valley is sponsoring the announcements for Montgomery County on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and the school system's website.
It's an agreement found as the Montgomery County Educational Foundation needs more funding with limited federal, state, and local money.
Connie Froggatt is the Montgomery County Educational Foundation President and School Board Vice-Chair.
She explained about the sponsorship, “It's absolutely critical. Since the recession on 2008-2009, by conservative estimates, we're down about $10 million, and on top of that we're down 50 teachers. But at the same time our enrollment has been growing by about 250 students.”
The Foundation funds arts and engagement programs, as well as STEM. Really any areas hit hardest by budget cuts.
Kevin Shaw is the Franchisee of Domino’s in the NRV and Roanoke Valley and a parent in Montgomery County.
He explained, “Every time we would get one of the snow cancellation notices or phone calls, it just made me think about potentially working with the public schools to partner just to sell an extra pizza and help a kid.”
So the chain gave $600 to support marketing efforts, $600 to the Educational Foundation, and $1,200 worth of box tops to be delivered with pizza, advertising the school system's initiatives.
When the first tweet went out Tuesday morning, some were supportive, with b’easy thompson replying "Creative if you ask me! #allinforthekids," and Andrew Sinclair tweeting, "I'm all for lower taxes and public schools using ads. It makes sense."
But other parents had questions about the restaurants' motive, as BeerBrewerDan tweeted, "So, it benefits them for school to close? If not closed then their name isn't mentioned."
Another person, Alice, tweeted out, “As a parent, I will gladly pay more taxes so public schools do not have to sell out to the highest bidder risking affiliation of reputations and product endorsements."
Froggatt said of the response, “The support was wonderful, obviously. I think the pushback just comes from a lack of understanding of just the dire straits that our schools are in and that we have to take every opportunity we get.”
The school system also hoped this first of its kind sponsorship will inspire other companies to do the same. Other counties could follow suit too.
In fact one person responded to the tweet asking how she could become a sponsor as a parent and business owner.