Our View: Challenge met head-on | SteamboatToday.com

Our View: Challenge met head-on

An ambitious fundraising effort spearheaded by 10 Steamboat Springs parents is notable not only for what it produced but for what it prevented.

The Steamboat Springs Elementary School Challenge Fund, launched in January with a goal of raising $100,000 to support Steamboat’s two public elementary schools, reached only half its goal, parent Sam Jones said this week. But raising $52,000 during a weak economy still is impressive. Further, the fundraising effort achieved widespread response — 18 percent of households with children in the local elementary schools contributed to the fund, and contributions from local businesses accounted for 20 percent of the fundraising total.

Now comes the good part. An 11-member committee that includes three schoolteachers, two principals and six elementary parents will accept and vet applications this fall from teachers with ideas on how to use those funds to improve classroom education. The focus will be on new technology and additional staff support, expenditures that traditionally are a challenge for public school districts and particularly so during lean years.

We applaud the initiative and drive of the dedicated parents who started the fund and worked tirelessly to raise money for it. We hope the fund, which is managed by the Yampa Valley Community Foundation, can yield the positive classroom results it aspires to achieve. Success to that end will lead to future growth and buy-in from even more parents and businesses.

There’s something else we really like about the Challenge Fund — it eliminated the many smaller fundraisers typically done by the elementary schools that took up more time and cost more money without achieving anywhere near the same results. As is typical for elementary schools and other youth groups and organizations across the country, Strawberry Park and Soda Creek parents and students previously held bake sales, cookie dough sales and gift wrap sales throughout the course of the year to scratch together money. Those efforts typically yielded only $13,000 to $15,000 each year.

With the Challenge Fund, parents have found a way to achieve significantly better results in a more efficient and direct manner. Like the endowment fund begun recently in the South Routt School District, there’s a lot to like about the energy, enthusiasm and drive of local parents seeking ways to better the classroom experience of our children.

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