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Willmar Public Schools Foundation Board takes a long look at requests down road

WILLMAR — The Willmar Public Schools Foundation Board has OK’d paying for all or part of the activity fees for eight Willmar Senior High students.

The requests, which were approved at the board meeting Monday, totaled $1,885. The requests were all for sports, football, soccer and volleyball. Requests are often received for other activities, too.

It’s common for the board to approve a number of requests for activity fees at a meeting, as it was one of the original purposes of the foundation when it was founded 30 years ago.

However, the possibility of greater needs in the future has prompted some board members to wonder if there should be a limit on such requests.

The board also routinely fields applications from teachers for classroom projects, field trips or other activities.

President Patti Dols raised the issue of limiting the amount of requests on behalf of other board members who had raised the issue with her.

One board member told her he was concerned about the large numbers of younger children in the district receiving free and reduced price school meals. As those children move into the higher grades, the number of requests could increase.

Possibilities of a percentage or a dollar cap were discussed, but some members were opposed to a set limit.

“We don’t want to deny any kid the opportunity to participate,” said Orlo Almlie, a retired superintendent in Willmar.

Almlie and Mike Reynolds, a currently School Board member, reminded the others of the founders’ ideas for the foundation.

“The original mission of this foundation is ‘no child left behind’; everybody gets to play,” Reynolds said.

Under the current system, building administrators must approve requests before they go to the foundation board. Brad Schmidt, a former School Board member, said the current system seems to work well, and administrators usually know what’s happening with the students in their buildings.

Dols, a retired principal in the district, agreed that principals “have a pretty good idea of who’s hurting.”

Dols said she wanted to discuss the idea further at the board’s December meeting. Also on the December agenda will be a possible rewrite of the foundation’s bylaws to align its fiscal year with the school year.

To celebrate the foundation’s 30th anniversary, board members hosted an event at Friday’s Homecoming football game to highlight some of the young people who had received help from the foundation in the past. They handed out brochures and snacks to people on their way to the game.

Board members discussed asking to post their banners and hand out brochures during school conferences.

The effort was part of the board’s plan to raise its visibility in the community. A new website will be launched later this fall, along with a Facebook page and a PayPal link to make donating easier.

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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