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Niskayuna school board establishes fund to enhance educational efforts

Sunday, January 6, 2013
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— Niskayuna school officials have started a fund to which people can donate money to enhance educational programs.

The Board of Education last month authorized the creation of the Niskayuna Central School District Education Enrichment Fund. Board member Barbara Mauro had pushed the idea, given the tough budget climate facing school districts. This money could help fund a variety of activities, including extracurricular clubs and field trips.

“It could be for anything of those things that get cut,” she said. “We don’t expect to use this money to pay for a new roof or pay for teacher salaries.”

Other school districts have established such funds, including Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake, Ballston Spa, Broadalbin-Perth and Scotia-Glenville.

“It is another way for people to give charitable donations for an educational purpose,” Mauro said. “It’s also an opportunity for grants from businesses — not that they couldn’t give it to the school directly.”

Mauro stressed that the fund would not replace traditional fundraising.

“We’ll still have PTOs and the booster club and other groups,” she said.

An advisory committee created by the Board of Education will make recommendations on how the donations should be spent, but the school board will have the final say.

She said she believed that the committee would have public meetings. “The idea is to have transparency, so people who want to donate won’t feel that just a handful or two people are making decisions,” she said.

Niskayuna’s fund would be a part of the Niskayuna Community Foundation. That organization will provide administrative assistance, according to Cindy Phillippe, community relations chairwoman.

“We’ll be working with them on promotion of the fund and helping them to set up the grant distribution process,” she said.

Contributions may be sent to the Niskayuna Community Foundation, P.O. Box 9711, Niskayuna, NY 12309. People should indicate on the checks that it is to go to the Niskayuna Central School District Education Enrichment Fund.

The NCF itself is part of the Community Foundation for the Greater Capital Region, which is an umbrella 501-c(3) nonprofit organization that manages and invests the money of various local foundations in a money market account.

Karen Bilowith, president of The Community Foundation for the Greater Capital Region, said the foundation primarily works with families and people who want to award charitable gifts. However, her organization manages funds for about 10 different schools currently and is in talks with others.

She said more public schools are setting up foundations in the difficult economic climate and even creating endowments to support activities that may not be funded by the regular budget.

“I think there are many individuals within communities to donate private dollars to support the different activities,” she said.

Contributions may be sent to the Niskayuna Community Foundation, P.O. Box 9711, Niskayuna, NY 12309. People should indicate on the checks that it is to go to the Niskayuna Central School District Education Enrichment Fund.

 
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