MGS Foundation sets goal or raising $200,000

DeWayne Bartels

School may be out for the summer but the educational mission at Metamora Grade School is ongoing.

However, the target audience for this educational effort is not children. It is the adult population served by MGS.

MGS Superintendent Martin Payne, MGS School Board member Greg Edwards and Rob Swain, president of the MGS Foundation for Educational Excellence, met last week with the Woodford Times to explain why the district needs to raise $200,000.

The three officials said a technological breakthrough is needed at the school. They said this is an issue that cannot be put off any longer.

They said the school needs Smart Boards, White Boards and projection systems for the classrooms not currently outfitted.

Currently, only about 35 percent of the nearly 900 students in the K-8 district, have access to the technology needed.

The foundation, started in 1991, was designed to help provide teachers with money to do things over and above what the district could afford.

The state of uncertain state financing for schools has magnified the need for the work the foundation does, the men said.

Before the foundation was created teachers routinely provided supplies for their classrooms out of their own pockets or simply had to forego educational opportunities because money was unavailable in the budget.

The foundation, through fund raisers like the Spring Carnival, has changed that by providing mini-grants to teachers who provide ideas that expand the educational opportunities for students.

But, even the money raised by the carnival — which averages about $10,000 annually — is not enough to tackle the technological needs facing the small district.

Edwards said the district has good teachers and students eager to learn.

“Our drawback is the lack of technology,” Edwards said.

He said raising $200,000 is an aggressive goal to change that.

“We’ve got a goal to raise these funds by July 2013,” Edwards said.

“That’s an aggressive goal. Anytime you want to raise $200,000 I don’t see how you can think that’s not a challenge.”

The district is going to use a multi-phase approach to tackle the issue. Payne promised he would disclose more facts on the plan in the future when a meeting with the appropriate people can be arranged.

The first phase of the effort is already underway. That involves contacting people and businesses that could be high dollar donors.

The good reputation the district has is helping with that effort, Swain said.

“In addition, people know where we are from a state finance standpoint,” Swain said.

Edwards said when the money is raised that every penny will go toward technology and training for the staff. The wiring and any other infrastructure needs will be paid for by the district.

“This is not a want. It’s a need,” Payne said.

“This is about looking into the future. This is also about today.”

Edwards said the future is something those approached about being donors have also asked about.

“I’m on the finance committee,” Edwards said.

“We’ve worked on increasing the technology line item. We’ve gone from $10,000 annually to budgeting $80,000. As we find where we can cut other places we increase that fund.”

Edwards said by doing that the district can assure the public this $200,000 investment will provide the greatest impact.

“We have to do this,” Swain said.

“We have to stay competitive with other districts.”