Archive for Thursday, November 18, 2004

Foundation works for local schools

November 18, 2004

Lansing High School teacher Mary Alice Schroeger knows that, despite a record of academic achievement, Lansing schools can't do it all relying only on government funding.

Lansing High School teacher Mary Alice Schroeger

Lansing High School teacher Mary Alice Schroeger

"Educational opportunities," she says, "require money."

So Schroeger, who teaches language arts, French and a class for at-risk students, this year has added to her job description.

She has taken on the job of director of the Lansing Educational Foundation, an organization with a mission of providing financial support for Lansing schools.

The foundation hopes to help the district move forward by funding programs that tight budgets haven't been able to allot money to.

Schroeger said the quality of district schools and staff makes the foundation's work easier.

"We have excellent teachers, involved parents and students who want to learn," she said.

Still, some areas need extra support, she said.

"There are special interest programs, like those for at-risk kids, that don't get the funding they need," Schroeger said.

The foundation has started fund-raising efforts. It has set its goal to reach $50,000 by the end of this year. Schroeger said people could donate money, land, cars, stock, or practically anything of value.

"It benefits members in the business community because it is a tax write-off," said Assistant School Superintendent Donna Hughes. "It is important to the school districts because their donations help schools."

The Lansing school district began planning for the foundation about two years ago, and it was established this June.

Schroeger, noting that most school districts in the area have

foundations to support their schools, said that while Lansing's foundation is in its initial phase, it's headed in the right direction.

The foundation has been working with the Greater Kansas City Community Foundation to identify areas of funding and establish administrative procedures. Schroeger also has been studying other foundations and has attended two seminars on foundation development.

She's also planning a fund-raising even scheduled for February.

Schroeger said Gov. Kathleen Sebelius is expected to be the keynote speaker at a breakfast the foundation will hold Feb. 4, 2005.

The foundation is selling tax-deductible tickets for the breakfast. Donors of substantial amounts will receive tickets to the breakfast. Donors of more than $5,000, The Pride, receive 20 tickets for breakfast; the Roaring Lions, those who contribute more than $1,000, receive 10 breakfast tickets; the Cub's List, donors of more than $500, receive five tickets to the breakfast. Individual tickets also will be sold.

Next year, the foundation expects to host a gala for its fund-raiser. It also will begin working with the libraries to launch a book donation. People will be able to give money to the foundation so they can donate a book in honor of a teacher, student or community member.

In addition to benefiting the schools, the foundation also helps to rally community support for the public schools, Schroeger said. Its five officers and seven members represent an array of interests from the Lansing community.

One curriculum area Hughes hopes the foundation can help with is East Asian studies.

Dick Cameron, a local insurance agent, and Chris Aus, of Aus Construction LLC, went to China with Hughes and LHS principal Steve Dike this fall to gain a better understanding of East Asian culture - a subject area of interest in the district. Five district teachers have participated in the Kansas University's East Asia consortium. Eventually, Lansing hopes to establish a cultural exchange program with China.

"It is important," Schroeger said, "that we engage students in cross-cultural education."

The LEFF meets every month and seeks input from the community. To donate money or find out ways to support the LEFF contact Kyle Kelley at kylekelley@kc.rr.com or Schroeger at schroegerm@usd469.net.

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