South Routt charts course for education endowment

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— Founders of the newly formed South Routt Education Endowment fund met Tuesday night in Oak Creek to begin drafting a plan they hope will raise $1 million for the school district this year.

South Routt Superintendent Scott Mader, South Routt School Board President Tim Corrigan, Soroco High School Principal Dennis Alt, South Routt parent Russ Garrity and South Routt Elementary School teacher Peggy Barnes discussed for an hour a list of fundraising strategies they think could grow their endowment, which was established last week with the Yampa Valley Community Foundation. The group agreed there was pressing need to first establish a Web presence for the fund.

“We need to be proactive because we don’t have a lot of name recognition out there,” Garrity said.

School district officials reached an agreement Dec. 21 with the Community Foundation to start the fund they aim to grow from $10,000 to $25 million in five years. Officials previously have said the funds could be used to support teachers and students in South Routt. Specifically, Corrigan said in November that the private funds could allow the district to extend its teacher contracts to 10 months from the current nine.

The task force Tuesday night agreed social media would be an attractive way to start promoting the new fund, which was created to offset state budget cuts to public education that have cost Soroco an average of $250,000 for each of the past three school years.

Mader said in addition to seeking large donations left behind by individuals and their estates, the endowment also would need smaller donations to thrive.

“We’ve got to use social media and find more ways to think outside the box instead of just pursuing the traditional idea of asking individuals that are privately wealthy” for donations, Mader said. “We also can never get (to our goal) on traditional fundraisers and bake sales.”

He stressed the $1 million fundraising goal was achievable.

“We have to think big, and we have to start rolling up our sleeves and dig in,” he said. “I have found that the bigger you think, the more you can accomplish.”

If and when the fund reaches the $1 million needed to start releasing funds to the school district, a five- to 11-member grant commission, which will include a minority of school district staff and a majority of community members, will form to recommend how the money should be distributed. 

The task force also is looking to enlist the help of individuals inside the school district to boost the fund. Mader said students in a business class at Soroco High School will work to design a logo and informational flyer for the endowment. The task force plans to again meet Jan. 24 in a public meeting to further discuss fundraising strategies.

To reach Scott Franz, call 970-871-4210 or email scottfranz@SteamboatToday.com

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