What is a Timebank?
A timebank is a ‘bank’ in which volunteers can make ‘deposits’ which can be redeemed in due course to be used to pay for ‘services’. In our school context it would mean that parents who have some free time, could use this time to volunteer in specific projects in the school, and have this time recorded and noted formally as ‘deposits’ in a ledger called a ‘timebank’ and then use this credit as part-payment against services offered by the school which normally would cost money.
An example would be:
The internal school walls are in constant need of painting. It would cost the school money to pay for this to be done by a contractor. Instead, if a group of parents were to undertake to give their labour and expertise for free, the hours they spend doing this would be noted/recorded and ‘banked’ in a ledger. Next Autumn, when the After-School Clubs cycle comes around again, this ‘banked’ credit could be translated into vouchers which could be used to part-pay for a selection of clubs for your children.
Another example might be:
The school needs a series of books to be scanned into digital computer files for future classroom use by the teachers. Any parent who has the skill to do this, in the school premises, using school facilities, could have their time/labour recorded and ‘banked’ in the timebank-ledger. In due course, this ‘banked’ credit could be redeeemd as vouchers and used in part-payment for your child to participate in a Summer Camp in the school.
The particular projects that are suitable for this, from the school’s perspective, are those projects which would otherwise cost the school money; so a saving to the school’s finances has to be made ( i.e. it is not something that should normally be expected to be done, or is done, on a voluntary basis in keeping with normal parental-involvement protocols in the school). For this reason only specific projects will be called ‘Timebank Projects’. An initial list of these might be some gardening, building-maintenance, IT projects.
Also, all of our extra-curricular projects for children must self-fund, so the ‘vouchers’ that accrue from hours of voluntarism can only ever be part-payment for these services and cannot replace fully the cash needed to meet the overheads of these initiatives.
I am grateful to Tom Moriarity from Adamstown Educate Together for his presentation on ‘Timebank’ at our recent Principal’s training weekend.
Is there an enthusisasm amongst our school parents for this kind of project? What do you think might be the strengths and weaknesses of a project such as this? Would this kind of project be of benefit to Balbriggan ETNS? Please leave a comment.