Education endowment fund for South Routt gains momentum after nearly a decade
For Peggy Barnes, the South Routt School District is much more than where she sent her children and taught for 37 years. The schools are also where she gathers on weekends to watch sporting events and see friends, attends community events and where she believes the country’s future leaders learn and grow.
“Whether or not you have children involved in the district, everyone supports the schools and the kids,” she said.
In an effort to improve the education quality and provide better opportunities for children in South Routt schools, Barnes and several other South Routt residents have teamed up with the Yampa Valley Community Foundation to create the South Routt Education Endowment Fund.
The fund was first established in 2011 and is currently sitting at about $20,000, with not much being done in the way of fundraising for almost a decade. With renewed interest, the fund’s organizers hope to eventually reach $1 million.
“Our school district has been relying on ever-dwindling state funds,” Barnes said. “We’re hoping this will be the thing that keeps our small, very poor district afloat.”
The goal of the fund is to create a permanent, discretionary source of funding for the South Routt School District. Once that goal is met, a committee of South Routt educators, students and community members will disburse the funds annually. They may be used for building and playground upgrades, buses, scoreboards, athletic facilities, arts and music studio spaces, science labs and shop equipment.
Once the fund reaches $25,000, local resident Russ Garrity and his family have pledged to provide a matching donation, as for them South Routt schools are a special place.
“Education of our kids is hugely important to everything we do,” Garrity said. “We’re such a small school district, that by the time we pay for plowing the snow and heating the buildings, we just don’t have a lot of money kicking around and that’s not right.”
Routt County Commissioner Tim Corrigan, who represents South Routt, said he was unsure how many donations the fund would receive due to a lack of financial resources in Oak Creek and Yampa, but most of the donations have come from locals.
The district continues to see high test scores and overall academic performance while about 50% of its students meet the low-income requirements to qualify for reduced lunch.
Corrigan said the district has lost students and teachers over the years to the Steamboat Springs School District, a more affluent district that can provide teachers with better salaries and students with more resources.
“We knew that if we could get to a certain threshold, that we would start to be taken more seriously, and that at that point we might start attracting other folks that could see the successes of our students,” Corrigan said. “It’s incumbent upon us to do what we can to provide those opportunities for our kids and give them a reason to stay in our school district.”
The community is invited to learn more and join the matching challenge by making a donation at yvcf.org/sorocoedfund.
To reach Alison Berg, call 970-871-4229 or email aberg@SteamboatPilot.com.
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