04/04/06 — Grantham suggests alumni help with funds for schools

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Grantham suggests alumni help with funds for schools

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on April 4, 2006 1:55 PM

Wayne County Board of Education members heard a suggestion Monday that the school district ask alumni to assist in support of the schools and programs.

There was no discussion of the future of the county's budget for the school district or future facilities plans. Commission and school board officials are waiting for the results of a study by Evergreen Solutions on the district's building needs in response to questions concerning the facilities line item from 2005. The boards also are getting ready to talk about the 2006 budget.

During the board comment portion of the board's regular meeting, Chairman John P. Grantham brought up the case of the Clinton City Schools, which had been partially funded through efforts of alumni there.

He suggested the scenario might be one the Wayne County Schools could consider to deal with mounting concerns over school funding versus district needs.

"Think about if you sent out letters to all the alumni (of our schools)," he said. "Everybody can tell you that there's teachers in their lives that have had a profound influence on their lives."

Grantham mentioned the possibility of sending letters to those in charge of high school class reunions as a way of soliciting monetary support. He said that there are many in the community, products of Wayne County schools, who have reached a level of success, "they may help if they know we need funds."

Board member Shirley Sims said she thought the fund drive was a good idea, but added she was doubtful that the public would respond as successfully in Wayne County as alumni had in Clinton.

Also during the comment period, board members discussed the role of supplemental programs in schools and how they can help students achieve their educational goals.

Following a presentation during the school board meeting on a college readiness program being introduced at the middle school level, "GEAR UP," board members expressed the importance of continuing such initiatives and informing the public of their existence.

"All of these programs, GEAR UP, remediation, Girl Power and all of these things have given our children great opportunities," board member Thelma Smith said.

She suggested the school system publish a list of all the programs that are being made available to students during and after school.

"If the opportunities are there, the public needs to know that we're offering everything conceivable, but if the opportunity is not taken, our job is not being fulfilled," she said. "These are the things outside or beyond the ABCs that students have the opportunity to get."

Ms. Sims agreed that such incentives provide "fascinating possibilities" for the children of Wayne County.

"I don't know how we're going to get it out to the public. I don't think the community really has a clue about some of the things we have going on in our schools," she said.

Ms. Sims said that schools today are so test-oriented, designed to helping students progress to the next level.

She expressed frustration about not being able to do more for students.

"Study, test. Study, test. But nothing else for, 'Why do I need to get these grades?'" she said. "Since we can't build buildings, and we can't buy some of the things that we would like to, we can get some of this out and let the public know what you're doing with your own personal money that's making a difference in the lives of boys and girls."

Board member Rick Pridgen said he had a moment recently where he was made aware of the ramifications of such offerings.

He said that while out with his wife having dinner, he was approached by a parent who shared how beneficial the remediation program had been to his child. Pridgen said it was rewarding to hear how a student who had been lagging behind was able to make strides through the tutoring effort.