Schools Foundation fundraiser luncheon goal to top $400,000

October 14, 2008

By Chantelle Lusebrink

On Oct. 16, community members, teachers and Issaquah School District officials will fill the community center in hopes of raising more than $400,000 for education.

The Nourish Every Mind Luncheon is the predominate source of revenue for the Issaquah Schools Foundation. That money is given to the school district, which receives $11.6 million less than other districts each year because of an archaic funding system, according to research conducted by the foundation.

Last year, community members raised $356,000 during the luncheon, more than any other year to date.

The program has been shortened this year but will again include Pat Cashman as the master of ceremonies, as well as two teacher guest speakers and several students.

Money collected from the luncheon goes to support the foundation’s educational programs throughout the district, like the VOICE Mentor program, which pairs students with adult community members who act as tutors and mentors.

It also provides money to support the after-school homework laboratories at each of the district’s four middle schools and three comprehensive high schools.

Money from the luncheon also helps support teachers through the Classroom Enrichment and Kateri Brow Big Idea grants given out each spring and by helping cover the cost of obtaining their National Board certifications.

The foundation was created in 1987 as a way to provide needed monetary support to the district, which is 272nd out of the state’s 295 districts in funding.

The average school district in Washington receives $8,752 per student; Issaquah receives $8,013.

Since the creation of the foundation, the district has received nearly $4 million in funding from it for additional student programs, staff development trainings and materials.

Part of that money has come from local corporate luncheon sponsors, like Overlake Medical Center Issaquah, Swedish of Issaquah, Port Blakely Communities, Microsoft and Boeing.

In a district with more than 40,000 people — 12,000 families with school-age children and a total of 16,000 students — there were only 2,500 donors to the foundation last year, foundation officials said.

“In a perfect world, school would be fully funded,” said Lynn Juniel, development manager for the foundation. “Now, more than ever, in this economy, where school districts have no money and aren’t able to readily get it from the Legislature, it falls increasingly on the community to step in.”

Officials are asking each family in the district to donate $200 this year.

“If every family donated $200, then we would have $2.5 million to contribute to the school district,” said Robin Callahan, executive director of the foundation. “But anything families can afford is helpful and appreciated.”

Reach Reporter Chantelle Lusebrink at 392-6434, ext. 241, or clusebrink@isspress.com.

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