2006-09-21 / Island Life

Newly formed foundation plans ways for enriching school district

BY DAN PARKER SOUTH JETTY REPORTER

A group of Port Aransans has formed a non-profit foundation to seek community support for the Port Aransas Independent School District with funding, enrichment programs and other support work.

The Port Aransas Education Foundation obtained official non-profit status and put together a board of directors in August.

The board consists of Janice Roberts, president; Vanessa Brundrett, vice president; Jana Snow secretary; Wendy Moore, treasurer; and board members Michelle Sowers, Beth Owens, Mike Hall, Jay Jones, Rob Clark, Greg Villasana and Mark Milligan.

The foundation will hold a reception from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 13, at the Compass restaurant at Island Moorings. Foundation organizers will talk about the organization and answer questions.

The reception will be open to the public and free, with a cash bar. Items donated by local merchants will be sold in silent and Chinese auctions.

Roberts and Brundrett started working about six months ago to put the organization together. Roberts, who has served on Port Aransas school committees in the past, said she has been frustrated that the property-rich PAISD must send away more than 70 percent of its tax revenue to poorer school districts under state Robin Hood laws.

"Here we have such a large tax base but can't offer the type of curriculum or technology for our students to be ahead of the game," Roberts said. "We feel we have an excellent educational system. It's just, for what we have, for what we collect with our taxes, we should have even more than that. And that's kind of where the foundation comes in, to be another channel, to assist."

Brundrett, who has a daughter in third grade at H.G. Olsen Elementary School, said she has a great investment in Port Aransas. Brundrett Middle School was named after her grandfather, Ancel Brundrett, who served for years on the district's school board. He died in 1980.

"I'd love to see (Port Aransas) become everything it can be," Vanessa Brundrett said. "It has so much potential. We have so many talented citizens."

According to the foundation's literature, goals are to:

+ Support the school district by providing funding not available through traditional local, state or federal sources. For example, that could mean purchasing computer technology, curriculum or teacher training that is not in the district's budget, Roberts said.

+ Advance student and teacher achievement through enrichment programs and activities.

+ Encourage community and family participation in local schools.

+ Create a perpetual source of funds through donations from individuals, foundations, businesses, organizations and income earned from endowment funds.

The foundation is planning to award grants to the district every spring in a few possible areas. According to foundation literature, grant money could:

+ Provide funds for teachers to develop innovative programs that promote student achievement and advance approaches to teaching;

+ Assist employees who want to take part in continuing education, enrichment seminars, workshops or conferences that enhance instructional programs;

+ Provide money for a campus or the district to upgrade or implement tools, programs, activities or projects that would enhance educational achievement.

The foundation will raise money through grants and individual and corporate donations, Roberts said. The foundation is seeking volunteers to help with fundraising efforts.

People who want more information about the foundation can call Roberts at 749-7126 or write to the foundation at: Port Aransas Education Foundation, P.O. Box 95, Port Aransas, TX, 78373.

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