The below editorial from Juliet Buder and Allison Frey discusses the crucial and all too often unknown support school foundations provide the districts they serve. The Auburn School District is supported by the Auburn Public Schools Foundation.
The Auburn Public Schools Foundation
The Auburn Public Schools Foundation (APSF) was founded in 2011 and serves students and staff of the Auburn School District. APSF’s founding was due in part to the recognition that public funds alone cannot adequately support what is needed to advance student achievement in the district.
$24,000 in flexible funding
$23,000 for books for students to keep
$25,000 to support Child Nutrition Services
$11,000 to support the arts, sports, and graduation efforts
And more than $90,000 in gift cards for families to use on food, clothing, hygiene items, gas, or other items they deem essential at this time.
So far, in the 2021-2022 school year, the APSF has provided $45,000 in classroom-based funding around STEM, literacy, the arts, and nutrition. Of that, $20,652 went to purchasing multicultural and Multilanguage books for libraries and classrooms that will engage students of various backgrounds in reading.
Support the Auburn Public Schools Foundation today: auburnpsf.org
School Foundations Provide Critical, But Often Invisible, Resources for Public Schools in Washington State
Juliet Buder and Allison Witter Frey
On January 28, 2022, the Seattle Times editorial board published an article highlighting issues in Washington State around equitable funding of our public school system. Their opinion – that current levies on the ballot are subsidizing the failure of the state legislature to uphold its own constitutional obligation to fully-fund public K-12 education – was insightful, giving attention to underfunding issues Washington has been struggling with for over 10 years. That said, there was one significant funding source omitted from the conversation: public school foundations.
The many foundations found in districts across King County should be acknowledged when talking about the full funding picture of many public schools. In districts like Seattle, Issaquah, Everett, Edmonds, Mercer Island, Renton, Shoreline, Bainbridge, Lake Washington, Bellingham, Auburn, Edmonds, Northshore, and Bellevue, school foundations exist for the sole purpose of bridging a funding gap that exists in our public school system.
”Without foundation funding, students and educators could be left without the arts, computer science, early learning, teacher certifications, and the opportunity to pilot innovative – and vital – new programs. The first foundation dedicated to supporting public K-12 initiatives in Washington State, the Bellevue Schools Foundation (BSF), has been an integral part of Bellevue schools’ innovation,” said Melissa deVita, Deputy Superintendent Bellevue School District.
“The Bellevue Schools Foundation not only provides funding to support innovation and new programs much of which could not be pursued without their funding,” deVita said. “But it also provides a strong link between the district and the community at large. There is something positive to be said about a community that voluntarily invests in our schools.”
Since its inception, BSF has raised over $37,000,000, providing myriad of programs such as culturally-responsive literature libraries in classrooms, preschool tuition assistance, enhanced computer science curriculum, and innovation grants, allowing teachers to spark creativity in learning within their individual classrooms.
With the pandemic anxiety and interruption in learning, educational foundations in Washington have felt the funding crunch. Many donors could or would not continue donating because of economic hardship, frustration at the COVID response and virtual learning environments, or other stressors. Yet, at the time of this writing, BSF has been able to pivot nimbly, making significant, targeted donations to families in crisis, while continuing support for programming like district-wide mental health support and suicide prevention, key to combating rising adolescent suicide rates.
All sources of funding are imperative to students as the roles and responsibilities of schools and education change with the times. In addition to federal, state, and local levies, the role of school foundations must be acknowledged. With the challenges of the pandemic, the ubiquitous nature of technology, and the growing support students need to maintain wellbeing, entities like BSF have been imperative to academic success of nearly 20,000 students.
Until the Washington State Legislature can release all funding due to schools in our state, levies and bonds will continuously need to be renewed to keep the schools standing and staffed. But even with these renewals, school foundations will continue to be called upon to bridge the funding gap, ensuring students receive the education they need – and deserve – to thrive.
Juliet Buder is the Executive Director of the Bellevue Schools Foundation. Allison Witter Frey is the President of their board of trustees, and governs other educationally-focused nonprofits in Washington.
The above is an editorial by a guest contributor. The views expressed in this editorial belong to the author of the editorial. The Auburn Examiner has not independently investigated every aspect of this article.