Ed Foundation still running | RecordCourier.com

Ed Foundation still running

by Scott Neuffer

Since 1984, the Douglas County Education Foundation has been there in the background funding classroom programs otherwise unavailable.

Now, the nonprofit group of approximately 20 individuals from the community is trying to ramp up those efforts in the face of potentially devastating budget cuts.

“Now, when we’re needed more than ever, we can’t give up what you guys started,” foundation vice president Kari Karwoski said in The Record-Courier office on Thursday.

She was speaking to Douglas County Sheriff Ron Pierini, seated across the table, who’s a former member of the foundation and once its president.

Pierini explained how the organization was started in the 1980s by then schools superintendent Greg Betts.

“He had this concept of an education foundation and how it had worked so well where he came from,” said Pierini. “The goal was to provide financial assistance to teachers who wanted to develop program in the classroom, but couldn’t because of budget restraints.”

Once the foundation’s board was formed, Pierini said, members came up with different ideas to raise money, including food competitions hosted by Lake Tahoe casinos.

“They were a huge success,” he said. “We never met the needs of all teachers, but we made a huge dent in it. The teachers felt the impact on children in a positive way.”

Jump ahead more than 20 years. The same organization, with different members, is preparing for its second annual Run Ed Run fundraiser on Sunday. Participants can walk, run or stroll either the 5k or 10k course, which start and end at Douglas High.

Pierini, former Superintendent John Soderman, and Tahoe Township Justice of the Peace Richard Glasson will be deciding which school, out of 11, has the most school spirit. Accordingly, the school will receive $1,000.

“We’re trying to marry again the idea of a community event,” said Karwoski.

For example, the night before the race, on Saturday, Indigo Restaurant in the Minden Village is hosting a silent auction and social mixer, 5-9 p.m., featuring an extravagant pasta bar and drink specials like red apple-tinis. The goal is to raise $10,000 for the foundation even before the race.

“I have five kids who’ve gone through Douglas schools,” said Indigo owner Lori Baxter. “I’m very fond of the school district, and I just wanted to help.”

Other businesses have stepped up to the plate, too. Carson Valley Inn donated a one-night stay and $100 dinner and breakfast for the silent auction, Soar Nevada offered up a free glider ride, and Sorensen’s Resort threw in two free nights, among several donors.

But plenty of food, fun and fundraising shouldn’t overshadow the real effects the foundation has in the classroom. In total, they’ve raised more than $500,000 for more than 350 projects. This year, roughly $14,000 in grants have been awarded across the district.

“In such difficult economic times, it is fantastic to have the Douglas County Education Foundation to give grant money to provide materials that we would not otherwise be able to purchase,” said Pinon Hills Elementary counselor Carly Strauss, who received nearly $800 for career day reference books. “The materials that will be purchased with this grant will be able to be used for years to come at all of the elementary schools. Hundreds of students across the district will benefit from having access to these reference materials.”

At Carson Valley Middle School, music director Sarah Holland received $140 for the Earmaster auditory training program.

“This program will help the students become better musicians in listening, reading and writing,” she said.

On the other side of the Valley, Pau-Wa-Lu Middle School received a $3,500 technology software grant.

“With the help of the DCEF, students at Pau-Wa-Lu will be able to learn the computer program Photoshop,” said art teacher Cindy Schnaare. “Specifically for my yearbook class, the yearbook staff will be able to create the type of yearbook we would like due to the fact that they will be able to edit the pictures they take with the program.”

Although they can point to many successes, foundation members say more funding is needed, more donations, especially with the state’s projected $3 billion shortfall in the next legislative session.

“Every bit counts,” said fundraising chair Jill Alley, also a teacher at Douglas High. “We can have a pretty big impact on all 11 schools.”

Perhaps the foundation’s most publicized event, something they’re committed to continuing, is the annual Teacher of the Year awards.

“It’s a major part of what we do and is something well-received by the community,” Alley said. “Teachers get the credit they deserve.”

For more information about the foundation or the race, visit http://www.douglascountyeducationfoundation.org.

Sunday’s event will feature bounce houses, fire trucks and a Care Flight helicopter for the kids. Fees for the 5K race are $20 for adults and $10 for youth 19 and younger. Fees for the 10K race are $25 for adults and $15 for youth. Cost is $5 for the quarter-mile fun run open to ages 12 and younger.

Registration forms can be picked up at any school, CV Sports on Topsy Lane, and at Indigo the night before the race. Same-day registrations are accepted with an additional $5 fee.