March 4, 2024

Grant County Herald

Community news from the prairie to the lakes

WCA Education Foundation has a $1 million vision for academic excellence 

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Jake Sias

Grant County Herald

West Central Area School District convened for its regular board meeting last Wednesday, focusing on a significant initiative proposed by the WCA Education Foundation aimed at enhancing educational resources and opportunities.

During the meeting, the Education Foundation, represented by John Kreft, Matt Allen, and Heather Carlson, unveiled their ambitious plan to create an Academic Enrichment Fund. This proposal involves establishing a $1 million endowment with the West Central Initiative. The principal amount of the fund would be preserved, while the interest generated, estimated to be between $50,000 and $60,000 annually, would be allocated to various school programs and facilities improvements.

In her presentation, Carlson emphasized the flexibility of the fund, stating, “What we can do is, if there is a really big item that can support a lot of our students, we can earmark for the next three years we are going to put most of our clumps towards this big project. We can do that. We are not looking to max out at $50,000 to $60,000 for each project.”

Several innovative uses for the potential funds emerged following discussions with teachers from North, South, and Secondary schools. Among the ideas proposed were the development of an outdoor learning center, similar to one in Morris,  enhancing STEM technologies throughout the district, and creating indoor recess areas for elementary schools. The secondary school improvements would also facilitate an interactive learning experience, where secondary students could use these resources to educate their younger counterparts in elementary schools.

The initial $500,000 is expected to be raised through donations from local businesses and private parties, with the Education Foundation actively seeking and feeling very optimistic in securing a matching contribution to reach the $1 million mark. While discussions with potential contributors are underway and have made it through initial approval, which is a very positive sign, final signoff has not been confirmed.

Matt Allen highlighted the enduring impact of the initiative, noting, “The enrichment fund will be perpetual. So when community members donate to it, they will know that their money will be staying with West Central in perpetuity. It’s obviously a big goal, but we believe our community is up to it.”

In an effort to kickstart community involvement, the foundation announced the “InVEST in WCA” campaign, set to launch on Feb. 2 during a double-header basketball game. This event aims to rally support from local businesses, WCA staff, students, and sports enthusiasts. Attendees will be encouraged to wear vests as a symbol of their support for the schools and the Academic Enrichment Fund.

To facilitate donations, the foundation plans to introduce a donation board comprising 100 squares, each representing a $5,000 contribution. Community members and businesses can purchase these squares and choose to pay either in one lump sum or over a period of two to five years. The objective is to reach or pledge the $500,000 target by July 1. Preliminary efforts have already garnered $50,000, marking a promising start with 10% of the goal achieved.

The WCA School Board expressed interest and support for the Education Foundation’s proposal, recognizing the potential long-term benefits for the district’s educational landscape. The initiative, poised to create lasting educational enhancements, reflects the community’s commitment to fostering a robust and dynamic learning environment for students across all grade levels.

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