Roadblocks prevented SGA from using surplus funds

Elie Salem and Ethan Leifman

Wilson’s Student Government Association (SGA) made over $10,000 from ticket sales for the Homecoming dance and spent less than $1,000 on decorations and entertainment for the event. The organization regularly finds itself with a comfortable surplus of funds, but a combination of miscommunication with Wilson administration, confusing DCPS regulations, and low attendance by SGA officers have left the money unused for the first two advisories of the year.

At the beginning of the year, SGA officers were not able to access their funds from the school bank, where their financial account is held. English teacher and SGA Adviser Natalie Zuravleff originally speculated that the money was poured into a general students account that the SGA didn’t have control over.

SGA’s other attempts to spend their surplus, by giving money to clubs and organizations, faced major roadblocks. DCPS regulations stipulate that the SGA cannot donate any money directly to a school club or organization, but can assist in purchasing materials or sponsoring some sort of event.

SGA’s other attempts to invest in administration and staff were also blocked by DCPS regulations which prohibit them from spending money on teachers. “We want to do something nice for teachers,” said Zuravleff. “But we’re not allowed to spend money on staff. It has to be student stuff.”

Zuravleff met with Coordinator of Strategy and Logistics Brandon Odom this Wednesday to discuss the confusion regarding SGA funds and resolved many of the original issues. Odom explained that anything student-related is placed in the student activities fund, but that each organization, including the SGA, has its own account from which it can make deposits and withdrawals, provided they are approved.

SGA’s original inability to access funds was partly due to the fact that while the school year had started, the fiscal year had not yet begun.

A lack of structure in SGA has also stalled decisions on how to allocate the surplus. “Our efforts are constantly delayed because we just can’t get everybody in the same place at the same time,” said Zuravleff. “Students join us today thinking SGA is not serious because it doesn’t get treated very seriously. So then the next year it’s treated the same way and we try to change those things but we don’t have the time and space to do it.”

SGA could also allocate the surplus toward its own future events. Sophomore Heidi Nikiema said she had fun at homecoming, but there could have been improvements through more spending. “I didn’t see any decorations, maybe they fell off.”

Student Body President Leo Saunders seconds this, and wants more funding to go to future dances and events, as well as to charity. He says the SGA has plans for a Winter formal in the works. “We still didn’t have any excuse for the lackluster decorations [at homecoming],” Saunders said.