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New foundation formed to assist R-VI students

Posted on Friday, October 2, 2020 at 7:21 am

People are pulling together and creating another venue to support students of the Centralia School District.

Jenne Auck, Lori Meyers, Deanna Richman, Chad Stidham and Harvey Million have formed, and are the board of directors of the Centralia Public Schools Foundation.

Saturday, October 17 they will be hosting a four-man scramble golf tournament at the Centralia Community Golf Course to raise funds for the foundation and raise awareness of the Foundation and its purpose.

Auck said they hope to have at least 20 teams that day, with payouts in three flights, depending upon participation.  For teams that need golf carts, the registration deadline is Monday, October 12.

Meeting regularly since April, the board has been discussing how to best help the district.

“We want to do what we can to help the students,” Million said. “The Foundation’s primary purpose is to fulfill the needs of Centralia R-VI students.”

Auck and Million said there were several ways they planned to do that.

“We will consult with Superintendent Steven Chancellor regularly on what the district needs,” Auck said. “And while we have a board representative, we will be operating independently of the school board.”

That will enable them to accept and maintain funds ear-marked by donors for specific educational purposes.

“This is a donor-driven fund,” Million said. “A donor or donors can leave their money to the foundation and not be concerned that it will be mingled into the school district’s funds or be concerned with how the district manages its, and their, funds.”

The foundation’s brochure gives four reasons for its work.

• To inspire academic excellence for students at all levels

• To cultivate collaboration and understanding of educational issues within the community

• To encourage innovation and creativity and to foster a love of learning.

• To assist the school district in providing its students with high quality, leading edge opportunities using the most current learning tools.

Million said the foundation’s primary purpose was not to provide scholarships to graduates, but it is equipped and very willing to do that for donors who want a scholarship created and maintained. “We will provide a way for alumni to benefit their alma-mater.”

But its main purpose is administering grants to help teachers help their students learn.

“What we want to do is administer grants to teachers to help them with educational projects,” Million said.  “We want to inspire teachers, and learning by providing financial assistance and resources for instruction and to enhance and enrich student achievement above and beyond what the district already funds.“

The foundation has its origins in a conversation between, Lorry Myers, a former school board member and life-long district supporter and now-retired R-VI Superintendent Darin Ford.

“Darin Ford reached out to me several years ago and asked my thoughts about establishing a school foundation,” Myers said. “I was somewhat familiar with what it was used for as many schools like Columbia and Fulton had started ones in their community. After doing some research, I reached out to Elton Fay, a Centralia alumni grad who is a practicing attorney in Columbia. Elton very generously gave his time and contacts to get copies of foundation documents from other communities so I would know where to start. After reviewing other community foundations, the by-laws for the Centralia Public School Foundation were created and tailored specifically for this community.”

She said the project was set aside when Ford announced his retirement, then revived after Chancellor was hired as superintendent.

“I reached out to Dr. Chancellor to get his reaction and learned he not only was excited and eager to help, but, he had worked with another district who also started a foundation. After a thumbs up from Dr. Chancellor, I enlisted the help of Jenne Bohlmeyer Auck, a Centralia alumni and CPA. Jenne took care of filling out all the necessary tax documents. Once completed, Elton reviewed everything and the paperwork was filed. … We tried to create a diverse board, people who were willing and eager to serve and support our district.”

Chancellor said foundations such as this one were helpful assets to a school district.

“It supplies a taxable benefit, a way for donors to write-off their donations,” Chancellor said. “They can write a check, donate cash, or establish a scholarship or fund in the name of an estate.”

Meanwhile, Auck said, sponsors for the golf tournament are welcome.

Individuals or businesses interested in sponsoring a hole, or otherwise helping the tournament or foundation, can contact Auck at jenneauck@yahoo.com