Keep Island Schools Strong raises $189k

With less than a week remaining, the Bainbridge Schools Foundation’s Keep Island Schools Strong campaign is nearly halfway to meeting its month-end goal of $400,000.

“June 30 is the end of the fiscal year for the school district and for the Bainbridge Schools Foundation,” BSF Executive Director Vicky Marsing said. “It’s the last time we can tell the school district that we have money to hire back teachers whose jobs are in jeopardy.”

KISS has raised $189,200 so far, and anticipates a final-week push similar to last year’s Save Our Teachers campaign.

“If they fall short of their goal, it simply means we will not be able to reinstate as many positions,” Supt. Faith Chapel said.

The school district issued six reduction-in-force letters to teachers in May, the equivalent of 4.7 full-time positions, and notified four full-time and six part-time teachers that their positions would not be renewed.

“If the Foundation were to raise the entire $400,000, we would be able to restore 4.7 FTE positions,” district Human Resources Director Cami Dombkowski said.

After raising $150,000, 1.9 full-time teaching positions were restored, Marsing said. BSF is close to the benchmark to fund another full-time position.

Besides the current effort, BSF has pledged $250,000 to the school district, which it hopes to raise by February 2011.

The school district, which faces a $1 million budget gap for the 2010-2011 year, saw the majority of that gap come from state funding reductions. Grade four staffing enhancement and I-728 funding, both of which kept class sizes down, were cut by a total of $645,000, resulting in more than $400,000 in staffing reductions.

KISS will be rallying with a school marimba band at the corner of State Route 305 and Winlsow Way from 4-6 p.m. Friday afternoon, and will sell fundraising T-shirts at Town & Country Market on Saturday.

KISS’ goal is to get 100 percent participation from island families. Only 45 percent of school-age families donate, Marsing said.

As compared to the Save Our Teachers Campaign, which raised a total of $260,000, donations are down about 20 percent from last year, Marsing said.

“I’m wondering if the reason that is because we’re still having tough economic times and last year was the first year we ever [laid off] teachers and it was a shock,” she said. “People are still extremely generous, but it wasn’t as shocking this year.”

A pledge of $15 per month per student would raise $650,000 and save all the threatened teaching positions, Marsing said.

“We do count the pledges toward our final number so we’re adding all that in looking to rehire teachers,” she said. “That includes pledges, actual donations and corporate matches.”

While enrollment numbers could create the need for additional teachers in August, teachers who have been laid off are likely to have already sought new opportunities.

“Teachers obviously need to know whether they’re going to have a job or not,” Chapel said. “The longer we go, the longer the time period before they know, the more likely it is they will search out another position.”

One of the positions saved so far was that of a fourth-grade teacher.

“No students will have to be bused for their fourth-grade year, or change schools,” Marsing said. “We were anticipating that some children would need to change from both Blakeley and Wilkes to Ordway if we didn’t have that funding.”

How to get involved

Call 855-0530 or visit

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