By Mark Nash
Special to The Sun
The Edmond Public Schools Foundation currently distributes about $100,000 each year to deserving teachers and schools in the form of grants, and through scholarships to graduating seniors. Many people will surely say, “Why do we need to give money to our schools? Don’t they get enough of our tax dollars already? Why do we need to give out scholarships? Aren’t we an affluent enough community that we can pay for our own kids’ education?”
If you are asking yourself these questions, maybe you need a reality check. All you need to do is examine the current state of education in Oklahoma to begin understanding why the EPS Foundation exists. There are too many needs and not enough resources to go around under the current structure of our educational system. Without major reform, the citizens of Oklahoma will not be able to fund these needs in the foreseeable future.
As the new A-F grading system is fully implemented and fine tuned, funds will most likely be redirected to assist those schools in need. What happens to the Edmond schools then? Many people are already anticipating that funding for our schools will once again shrink just as it did during the great recession from which we just emerged. These are some really big reasons for the EPS Foundation. But this organization pre-dates these events. In all actuality, we’ve never had enough funding to do what we all believe our schools need.
Add to these challenges the problems facing many graduating seniors wanting to go to college. There are deserving students right here in Edmond that cannot afford college. Everyone is aware that fee and tuition costs continue to rise at our public colleges and universities. How do those students that do not qualify for grant dollars and are financially constrained pay these ever-rising expenses? Without scholarships from organizations like the EPS Foundation, many graduating seniors may never make it through college.
In the 2011-12 school year, the EPS Foundation awarded $90,000 in grants to 22 schools in our district. Another $10,000 was divided by four graduating seniors. Why are we not doing more? We can, and we should.
Currently, directed funding for scholarships awarded by the foundation is only available to Memorial High School graduates. The EPS Foundation needs people and companies to step up and help us make scholarships possible for all three high schools.
Edmond, as a community, has a long tradition of support for charitable organizations. We need to continue this generosity by stepping up and supporting those who are our city’s future — our children. If every household in Edmond would donate $100 to the EPS Foundation we would raise $3,158,000. If each household would contribute just $20, the foundation would receive $631,600. Now is the time to show our support for our schools; for the students and the teachers. To contribute or learn more, visit http://edmondfoundation.org.
MARK NASH, an Edmond resident for more than 20 years, is operations manager for Pelco Products Inc. and recently was appointed to the Edmond Public Schools Foundation board of trustees. 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. Today’s column is the second part of a series. To read part one, go online to edmondsun.com/opinion and look for “25,000 reasons to give to Edmond Public Schools Foundation.”