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School ‘coupon books’ boast new look

Knox County Schools’ biggest fundraising effort has given itself an updated look.

The school coupon books, which KCS has sold since 1989, has been rebranded in an effort to ensure patrons buying them — with the intention of specifically supporting Knox County Schools — know what they are buying.

Mary Kerr, with Knox County Schools Partners in Education, said the rebranding was necessary due to the creation of another book, not sold by Knox County Schools, that will be circulating prior to the KCS drive.

“People are seeing that book and I have been getting calls from people saying, ‘someone is already selling coupon books.’ And we always had this almost sacred thing that nobody started until the starting date,” Kerr said.

The new book has been produced by the previous printer of the KCS books, but has been produced for the surrounding counties and for private schools.

“Private schools are out there selling now and it looks like the same book as last year, so people think it is our book and they are buying it,” Kerr said.

“If it doesn’t say Knox County Schools on the front, it is not benefitting Knox County Schools,” she added.

Scott Bacon, Knox County Schools supervisor of business partnerships, said the program normally nets KCS about $1.4 million each year.

Bacon said it also is important to know that the money each school earns by its coupon book sales stays in that particular school.

“$7.80 out of the $10 stays right there at the school that sells the book,” he said.

Each school also identifies for what purpose the money is used.

“For instance, Farragut Primary would set their own goal,” Bacon said.

“The staff and student population and parent population decide what the targets are to reach and the priority needs for their school, which might be completely different than Farragut Intermediate.

“I think that is why this thing works so well. The money is not pooled and redistributed. The school that gets out there and works and does some things and take some risks benefits,” he added.

In addition to retaining many of the merchants from previous books, this year’s book will have more than 50 new merchants.

“Because there is no cost to be part of the program, it gets very competitive to become a part of it, so we have 51 new ones, folks like Menchies and S&W Café downtown, for the first time in our book,” Bacon said.

In the past KCS has distributed two versions of the book, a Knox County book and an East Tennessee version, but due to the rebranding they only will be distributing the Knox County book this year.

Kerr said because the Sevier County section of the East Tennessee book was so popular, a Sevier County Family Fun section has been added to this year’s book.

“So families looking to go up there over the weekend or for fall break, there are some good deals,” Bacon added.

KCS officially will kick off its 2010 coupon book sale Thursday, Sept. 23.

A list of participating merchants and their offers can be found on the homepage of KCS’s Web site,


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