09/12/2011 08:09 EDT | Updated 11/12/2011 05:12 EST

Ban school fundraising, non-profit asks

A non-profit advocacy group in Toronto is calling for an end to private fundraising in public schools.

Social Planning Toronto says the ability of students in high-income neighbourhoods to raise money from parents gives them an advantage over students in low-income areas.

Over three years, the 20 "least marginalized" primary schools raised 36 times the money raised by the 20 "most marginalized" schools, the group says in a report.

High schools rely more on fees, the report says, but the 20 richest high schools still raised 920 times more than the 20 poorest —$33,653 compared with $36.56.

Roger Dale, the principal of Kipling Collegiate in the west end, says many students at his school don’t get everything they need because so little cash is available through fundraising.

“It does raise the age-old issue . . . of haves and have-nots," Dale said. "It’s a two-tiered system and I think it’s dangerous ground to be walking on.”

But parents in some of the city’s high-income neighbourhoods told CBC News they worry a ban on fundraising would hurt their children's chances of getting a good public education.

School board official Catherine Parsonage agrees the gap in fundraising is “not fair, not right” and says the board is looking at the issue.

One suggestion has been to pool money raised in school campaigns and spread it across the city.