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Foundation considering ways to raise more money for schools

WILLMAR -- Lackluster fundraising and growing needs have members of the Willmar Public Schools Foundation Board looking for ways to turn things around.

At the beginning of its meeting Monday, the foundation board re-ceived a report sh-owing it had in the area of $21,000 available to disburse, plus about $34,000 remaining in a bequest to be used for kindergarten students.

"I would like to see us make a concerted effort to raise more money," said board member Richard Falk at the board's meeting on Monday.

"Our schools need money, whether the levy passes or not," Falk added. "We're not raising that much anymore." The foundation normally sends letters to a list of previous donors and also runs advertisements seeking donations in December.

The foundation board approved requests for $590 to help students at Willmar Senior High pay their activity fees.

The board also approved a $5,000 expense from the money in the Marlys Bunde fund for kindergarten students. The money will be used to purchase books, book boxes and shelves to establish Reader's Workshop libraries for kindergarten students at Roosevelt Elementary School.

Kennedy Elementary sought and received $250 for books to be available to students who arrive early for school. The money is part of a $500 grant from the State Farm Good Neighbor Grant for the district's two elementary reading programs.

The board delayed a request of $5,000 for a sound system in the gyms at Roosevelt. Members said they wanted more information for their Dec. 6 meeting.

They also turned down a request for $20 for an activity fee, on the recommendation of Senior High Principal Rob Anderson. Anderson said the student receives free or reduced-price school meals and has already paid the $20. "The fee is a greatly reduced rate already and others have paid much more," he wrote in his recommendation to the board.

At Falk's suggestion, a committee of the board will meet to discuss ways to raise more funds. Board members were also asked to each bring a list of prospective donors to the Dec. 6 meeting.

The current list likely hasn't been updated for some time, said board member Bill Taunton.

The foundation held fundraising galas in recent years to raise money for band and choir needs.

Board member Bobbie Mattison said a fundraising event could also seek donations for general educational needs.

In the past, the foundation has donated money to help pay for field trips or theater tickets, to install SMART boards in classrooms and to fund travel for groups that have earned trips to national competitions. Since its inception, the foundation has also helped low-income students with the cost of participating in school activities.

Linda Vanderwerf

I cover education issues for the West Central Tribune and have worked for the paper since 1995. I have worked in journalism since 1981.

Follow me on Twitter: @lindavanderwerf

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