by KIM HILSENBECK
Hays CISD is currently a plaintiff in a school finance lawsuit (see story below). At issue is reduced funding in the last legislative session that lawyers say forced districts to lay off teachers, cut programs and increase class sizes.
Districts like Hays CISD have to get creative and tap into additional funding from non-taxpayer sources; examples include grants and donations.
The Hays Education Foundation is among the top fundraising entities for the district. The foundation awards grant money for innovative programs – most significantly, its Innovative Teaching Grants. Cumulatively, the foundation has given out more than $500,000.
The Nov. 3 “Denim & Diamonds” gala, the foundation’s annual black tie fundraiser, brought in about $100,000 for Hays CISD.
Another major source of fundraising is at the individual campus level in the form of Parent-Teacher Associations (PTAs). Comprised of volunteers, PTAs raise money for their school with fundraisers such as cookie dough sales and carnivals.
For example, the Carpenter Hill Elementary PTA raised $21,500 from cookie dough sales last year. This year, with an eye on obesity, the PTA opted to have a carnival only – last spring’s event raised $8,800, primarily for student enrichment.
PTAs also ask parents to collect Box Tops for Education; Carpenter Hill alone raised $4,000 from that effort.
The school recently held its first ever Fun Run and estimates it will earn about $30,000 from donations.
Other creative sources of funds include matching grants, such as the $3,000 from IBM received by Wallace Middle School for the volunteer hours donated by IBM employee and PTA Board member Ashley Palomarez.
This is part of IBM’s “On Demand Community” program, where employees and retirees volunteer and the company provides funding to help schools and community organizations. The money Palomarez raised was allocated to technology improvements in the library, Community In School’s anti-bullying campaign and Club GEN.
Carpenter Hill also received $4,000 in matching grants from IBM for the volunteer efforts of employee and PTA treasurer Samantha Zapalac. Her efforts have brought in $4,000, which was designated for a mobile iPad lab.
Zapalac was also able to secure a one-time $10,000 IBM grant to put toward the district’s STEM program.
Two local restaurants recently donated a portion of their sales to Hays CISD, including area McDonald’s ($2,100) and Applebee’s in Kyle ($1,162).
The Buda Lions Club also donates 20 percent of its game night concession sales to Hays CISD; this past spring, they gave $23,000.
The district also takes in facility rental fees for clubs, churches and sport camps. A total was not available at press time.
While not comprehensive, this list shows a community actively involved in making sure students have what they need to succeed in education.