The Edmond Sun

Opinion

February 15, 2013

Needs big but dollars are short

EDMOND — Sitting in my study this week, the needs of the Edmond Public School District have hit me square in the face. As a trustee of for the Edmond Public Schools Foundation (EPSF), I have been given one of the most rewarding tasks in recent memory and also one of the most difficult jobs I’ve ever had.   

The EPSF is in the middle of its annual grants program with our teachers throughout the Edmond Public Schools, and I as a trustee am charged with helping to decide which grant applications get funded this year. Being able to participate in the process is incredibly rewarding.

Now, here is where it gets difficult. This year the foundation received 89 grant applications for a total of $419,140. The problem is that the foundation has less than $100,000 available to award. That means that more than 75 percent of the dollars requested will not be funded. The needs are real, the dedication is outstanding, but there is a lack of funding to cover these requests.

Each year the foundation awards grants to buy equipment, curriculum, training aids and more for our teachers and school children. Being able to participate in the grant application process and interview teachers asking for grant funds has been, as I said, incredibly rewarding. Seeing the passion and dedication from these very capable members of our community who work tirelessly throughout the years to educate our youth is amazing. Their enthusiasm is contagious, and you can’t end a day of interviews without getting just as excited as the teacher applicants.

But, as I sit here reviewing the 11 applications from Memorial high school, I have realized that the remainder of the process will be quite a challenge.  After interviewing five teachers at Orvis Risner Elementary, I had the honor of interviewing 12 teachers and administrators requesting funding for the 11 grants I mentioned earlier. Powerful presentations drove home the needs for just one school. There are 25 schools in the district and all but four schools have submitted applications. And now, I’m going to have to go before the entire foundation board of trustees and advocate that my grants should be funded over the other 78 applications.

How can I persuade 24 other trustees that my grant requests are more deserving than theirs? Why should I even have to do this? Doesn’t the school district have enough funds to provide for our students? Many people right here in Edmond seem to think that the Edmond Public Schools are flush with money. After all, shouldn’t a community as affluent as Edmond have the best schools in the state?  

Not exactly. Edmond’s academic success is well-known. We produce our share of National Merit Scholars and have seen success athletically and in the performing arts. But, did you know that per pupil funding for Edmond students is the 23rd lowest in the state? Think about that; 23rd lowest out of more than 530 districts statewide. We are receiving more than $1,000 per student less than the statewide average, and more than $2,400 less per student than the Oklahoma City Public School District receives.

Our schools’ needs are real. Whether it is for technology to ensure that our students can succeed in college and in the workplace, or for novels for our English classes or playground equipment for special needs students or even just books for the school media center, the need is real. The problem is the school district does not have the funds to meet all the needs and obviously the EPS Foundation endowment is not large enough today to support the requests we receive.

Even though the foundation has received some exceptional donations this year, we are a long ways from being able to reach our goal of helping fund the needs of our children in here in Edmond. So now, I must sit back down and work out a strategy for how I can fight to receive almost half the grant money available to award this year, all the while knowing that 24 other trustees are doing the exact same thing. Realistically, 75 percent or more of the dollars requested by Memorial’s teachers may not be funded. Much of that depends on how well I do.  

Each and every request is justified. Each and every teacher in Edmond has real needs that I wish we could fully fund. But this year that’s just not possible. If you would like to help, visit http://edmondfoundation.org/ to donate or learn more.

MARK NASH, an Edmond resident for more than 20 years, is president of Pinnacles Partners West LLC, a management consulting firm headquartered in Edmond. He was appointed to the Edmond Public Schools Foundation board of trustees in 2012. A published author, he also is an Edmond Neighborhood Alliance board director, a trustee for the Edmond Economic Development Authority and a member of The Edmond Sun’s Community Editorial Board.

1
Text Only
Opinion
  • Digging out of the CIA-Senate quagmire

    Last week, the Senate Intelligence Committee, led by Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., voted to declassify parts of its report on the CIA’s rendition, detention and interrogation program. The White House, the CIA and the Senate still have to negotiate which portions of the report will be redacted before it is made public. But this is an important step in resolving the ugly dispute that has erupted between the intelligence committee and the intelligence agency.
    The dispute presents two very serious questions. Was the program consistent with American values and did it produce valuable intelligence? And is effective congressional oversight of secret activities possible in our democracy?

    April 15, 2014

  • Los Angeles Times: Congress extend jobless benefits again

    How’s this for irony: Having allowed federal unemployment benefits to run out in December, some lawmakers are balking at a bill to renew them retroactively because it might be hard to figure out who should receive them. Congress made this task far harder than it should have been, but the technical challenges aren’t insurmountable. Lawmakers should restore the benefits now and leave them in place until the unemployment rate reaches a more reasonable level.

    April 14, 2014

  • Many nations invested in Israel

    Former Israeli Ambassador to the United States Yoram Ettinger recently spoke to a gathering at the Chabad Center for Jewish Life and Learning in Oklahoma City. The event began with a presentation by Rabbi Ovadia Goldman, who told the attendee that the  upcoming Jewish holiday of Passover was an occasion for them to embrace the children of God, which is all of humanity.

    April 14, 2014

  • Coming soon: More ways to get to know your doctor

    Last week, the federal government released a massive database capable of providing patients with much more information about their doctors.
    The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the government agency that runs Medicare, is posting on its website detailed information about how many visits and procedures individual health professionals billed the program for in 2012, and how much they were paid.
    This new trove of data, which covers 880,000 health professionals, adds to a growing body of information available to patients who don’t want to leave choosing a doctor to chance. But to put that information to good use, consumers need to be aware of what is available, what’s missing and how to interpret it.

    April 14, 2014

  • HEY HINK: Hateful bullies attempt to muffle free speech

    Hopefully we agree it should be a fundamental right to voice criticism of any religion you wish. And you should have the right to sing the praises of any religion you choose. If criticism of religion is unjust, feel free to make your best argument to prove it. If criticism is just, don’t be afraid to acknowledge and embrace it. If songs of praise are merited, feel free to join in. If not, feel free to ignore them. But no American should participate in curbing free speech just because expression of religious views makes someone uncomfortable.

    April 11, 2014

  • Putting Oklahoma parents in charge

    Oklahoma’s public schools serve many children very well. Still, for various reasons, some students’ needs are better met in private schools, in virtual schools or elsewhere. That is why two state lawmakers have introduced legislation to give parents debit cards, literally, to shop for the educational services that work best for their children.

    April 11, 2014

  • Israelis, Palestinians are losing their chance

    Developments in the Middle East suggest that prospects of success for the Israeli-Palestinian talks, to which Secretary of State John Kerry has devoted countless hours and trips, are weakening.

    April 11, 2014

  • Teens might trade naked selfies for mugshots

    Will teenagers ever learn? You think yours will. Maybe so. But it's likely that was also the hope of the parents of children who were so shamed by nude photos of themselves that went south - how else can they go - that they killed themselves.

    April 11, 2014

  • Tax deadline and no reform in sight

    The annual tax filing deadline, which comes next Tuesday, provides a good opportunity for tax reform advocates to decry the current law’s increasing complexity and inequities, and to urge enactment of a simpler, fairer system.

    April 10, 2014

  • To get quality care, it helps to be the right kind of patient

    I am a family physician. Sometimes I must step out of the comfort of my clinical role and into that of patient or family caregiver. Generally, these trips to the other side of the exam table inspire a fair amount of anxiety.

    April 8, 2014

Poll

Do you agree with a state budget proposal that takes some funds away from road and bridge projects to ramp up education funding by $29.85 million per year until schools are receiving $600 million more a year than they are now? In years in which 1 percent revenue growth does not occur in the general fund, the transfer would not take place.

Agree
Disagree
Undecided
     View Results