Editorial: School district is fortunate to have foundation

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 1, 2004

In an era of continuing budget cuts, School District No. 241 is fortunate to have a foundation.

In troubled times, there are always people willing to give a little extra time or money to help others in need, and about five years ago, there were people with the foresight to create the Albert Lea Public Education Foundation.

After the high school was built, there were numerous other needs in the school district that were not be covered in the budget, so Dr. Stephen Thorn, the foundation’s originator, placed an ad in the paper. He learned how donations could be written off for tax purposes and allow people to decide where their money would be used. Then a board was formed.

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The foundation is a valuable asset to the school district because foundation members have been so willing to step up when there have been some needs that can’t easily be filled.

Foundation members have raised money to restore extra-curricular activities, retain teachers whose jobs may have been cut, and bought a grand piano for musical events and performances. The most visible item foundation money has purchased is the electronic sign at the corner of Bridge Avenue and Hammer Road to promote high school events, a sign at the south entrance to the school and artwork in the school, including the bronze tiger in the school’s foyer. Many businesses in town help with donations.

With the help of a private benefactor, the district will also benefit from a fund to assist students who are in need of gym shoes, field trip money, or other school supplies and expenses. The donation of $100,000 will bring $5,000 in interest each year for the district’s use.

The Tiger Student Assistance Fund is the first real step into endowment, and the foundation hopes to build on that with more funds for students such as a student education and development fund, a fine arts student support fund, industrial technology student support fund, technology endowment and family support fund.

Community, state and federal government have a responsibility to the schools, but we are fortunate to have people willing to raise the funds for things that go outside of their view, so the whole experience for students is enhanced. When the quality of education is enhanced, the whole community wins.

Anyone who would like to help can send donations to: Albert Lea Public Education Foundation, P.O. Box 828, Albert Lea.