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Schools receive funding boost

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Teachers at Indian Creek schools who want to start programs to help students become stronger writers or buy e-readers for their classrooms are getting help from the education foundation.

In the last two years, the foundation has raised more than $23,000 to give away in grants that teachers can apply for. So far, teachers have received money for Nooks and e-books, reading workbooks and computer software to help improve students’ grammar, spelling and word choice.

Indian Creek’s education foundation relies primarily on residents and school employees for donations. Foundation officials weren’t sure how much money to expect when the group formed in 2012, but they weren’t counting on raising $23,000 in two years, foundation president Heather Hart said.

“It has really exceeded our expectations, to be able to give that much,” Hart said.

Local education foundations allow residents, parents and school officials to raise money for programs and projects that schools couldn’t otherwise afford.

The Center Grove Education Foundation, which was founded in 1998 and is the longest-running in Johnson County, typically provides $20,000 in grants to teachers once or twice each year. This summer, Center Grove’s education foundation also made a $60,000 donation to the school district’s REACH program, which provides extra instruction to students who want to work ahead in their courses or who need help catching up.

The $60,000 contribution was the largest given in the foundation’s history and should enable Center Grove to create a remediation and enrichment camp for students during fall break.

Franklin schools also has an education foundation, formed in 2010, which has raised more than $30,000 in grants for teachers. Foundation officials have been working with the school district to learn about specific projects the organization can raise money for.

Nineveh-Hensley-Jackson and Clark-Pleasant schools both created their education foundations two years ago to fund grants for teachers, and scholarships for students.

The Clark-Pleasant education foundation has raised about $22,000 since it was formed two years ago, school district treasurer Karen Canary said.

The foundation has given a total of four Whiteland Community High School students $1,000 scholarships with the money that’s been raised. All eight schools received $500 at the start of the school year that they’ll be able to spend however they need.

Eventually, as Clark-Pleasant’s foundation raises additional money, teachers will be able to apply for grants as they do in other districts throughout Johnson County, Canary said.

“It’s just kind of a work in progress, but we’re trying to get that done,” Canary said.

At Indian Creek, parents and residents started the foundation so they could be sure the 1,800 students had the same opportunities to take field trips and conduct class projects as students from larger school districts such as Center Grove.

“We’re able to step in and focus on those types of projects the school can’t fund,” Hart said.

When Indian Creek’s foundation officials are considering which teachers’ projects and grants to fund, they think about the number of students that will be affected.

They want to be sure the money benefits as many students as possible, Hart said.

For example, by now second-grade teachers at Indian Creek Elementary have a total of about 30 Nooks with e-books on them, which amounts to a classroom set, that they purchased through the foundation’s grants.

And those devices will continue to benefit students, because they can be used year after year without any additional cost, Hart said.

“We like programs that benefit many students versus a few,” Hart said.

Foundation officials at all school districts spend much of their time looking for businesses and residents willing to donate.

At Indian Creek, which doesn’t have any major employers in or near the school district, almost all of the foundation’s money has come from residents and school staff, Hart said.

“Our problem is, we don’t have the cluster of businesses in our school district,” Hart said. “We don’t have a U.S. 31 or a State Road 135,” she said.

But Hart has been impressed by how residents have made up the difference.

Right now, about 80 percent of Indian Creek’s employees have either made one-time donations to the education foundation, or they have contributions to the foundation taken from their pay, Hart said.

The remainder of the contributions come from residents, and most of that money is raised during their fall fundraiser, a festival called Music at the Creek.

The festival includes music and games, and this year it will also feature a car show.

Hart wants the foundation to increase the amount it gives to Indian Creek schools every year, and to make that happen this year she wants to raise $10,000 through Music at the Creek.

“We keep doing what we do,” she said. “We add something new every year.”

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