Texas Public Schools Turn to Education Foundations
Texas Schools Increasingly Rely on Education Foundations
Education foundations in Texas, which a decade ago were almost exclusively a source of cash for education extras, are increasingly being called on to cover the cost of basic educational needs such as library books, overhead projectors, and student assessments, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports.
The dependence on education foundations, which were born in the 1980s as states such as California and Massachusetts struggled to fund their public schools, has become more noticeable in Texas as funding for education at the state level has shrunk and new mandates like the Robin Hood school finance plan have siphoned education money from wealthier districts. "Right now, we're raising money for the bottom-line, day-to-day needs," said Debbie Barton, executive director of the education foundation for the Carroll School District.
At last count, there were roughly five thousand community-based education foundations in the state, most operating independently from the school districts they support, said Howie Schaffer, a spokesman for the Washington, D.C.-based Public Education Network (PEN). And experts predict that continued funding pressure on districts will prompt the creation of even more. Last spring, for example, the Saginaw Area Chamber of Commerce converted its foundations into an education foundation for the Eagle Mountain-Saginaw district. According to Kristen Escovedo, the district's spokeswoman, local business leaders recognized that every school in the area was feeling the stress of inadequate funding and wanted to be part of the solution.
Officials in Dallas and Fort Worth, say they, too, are contemplating whether their school districts need similar foundations. And in Tarrant County, where Arlington, with 62,000 students is the largest district, the pressure on its foundation, which until February didn't have a full-time executive director, to do more is greater than ever. "[Not having an executive director] limited us to, 'Who do I know to grab for fundraising?'" said Ann Morris, a foundation board member. "We want someone who will wake up every day and say, 'What can I do to make sure the education foundation is bigger and better?'"