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Schools Foundation sets 2005-06 funding goals - Funding math program, enrichment grants top foundation"s goals next year - Mary L. Grady

The Mercer Island Schools Foundation has set a goal for their annual fund raising efforts for the 2005-2006 at $708,000. The top priorities for the year include funding the second year of the implementation of the school district's new University of Chicago math curriculum, teacher enrichment grants and the adoption of other key learning materials. The foundation presented its final list of funding priorities for the coming school term at a School Board meeting June 29.

The non-profit foundation's board of community members work with school district administrators in a months-long process to develop priorities of school needs.

The top priorities for the coming year include $43,448 for year two of the adoption of the school district's new University of Chicago Mathematics curriculum. The money will be used to purchase additional texts and curriculum materials and to pay for further teacher training. The list also includes $111,860 for a range of literacy curriculum materials, new science materials, and technology integration training for teachers.

The top priority each year are ``enrichment grants.'' These grants are requested by teachers for a wide variety of individual classroom or grade level projects. The grants may include cultural projects, music program, art or field trips and speakers. The amount earmarked for the enrichment projects for the coming school term is $70,000.

Money to continue to support the Autism Spectrum Program at Lakeridge Elementary School is also included.

Other projects are strategic and school improvement planning, math assessments, $30,000 to fund part of the cost of the expanded BRIDGES Program, $30,000 to help teachers within the district work toward National Board Certification status, and $6,500 for teachers and a consultant to develop and implement a curriculum to guide and assess culminating projects. Culminating projects are a new state graduation requirement for the class of 2008.

Another goal is to begin an endowment for a permanent source of funding for fine arts and music programs throughout the district. The foundation is hoping to set aside $40,000 for that purpose.

Finally, new software to enable staff to write and upgrade individual education programs for special education students will be purchased to make the district compatible with state-wide methods.

The amount of money raised by the foundation and spent on programs throughout the district has increased each year, and 2004-2005 was no exception. Through its annual phone-a-thon held in October, a breakfast for business leaders held in March, and $100,000 worth of designated giving projects, the foundation brought in a total of $720,000, exceeding the initial goal of $611,000.

The foundation, which began in 1981, has raised $6,741,000 to date for the schools. The first year, the group of volunteers raised $3,491.

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