The Richmond County Schools Education Foundation exceeded its fund raising total for last year at Monday’s golf tournament, and the money will be needed with the state cutting off funding classroom technology this year.
The foundation, which has focused its efforts in the recent years on providing “smart boards” and other high-tech gear for use in county schools, held its largest annual fundraiser Monday at the National Golf Club in Pinehurst. The use of the club for the day was donated by Kenneth and Claudia Robinette.
There were more than 80 sponsoring organizations and individuals, the majority of which were from Richmond County, explained Foundation President Priscilla Kindley. It raised about $14,000.
“We maxed out the number of players we could have at 100, which speaks volumes to the interest in the community of what we are doing,” Kindley said Tuesday. “Much of our effort over the past couple of years has been to raise awareness about what we’re doing, and the show of support we received from the community Monday is an affirmation the message is getting out there and people do support what we’re doing for the children of Richmond and want to partner with us.”
Last year, Richmond County Schools received $100,000 from the state to fund school technology, but all of those funds are eliminated in this budget. The vetoed budget is still subject to an override vote, which is expected in both houses of the General Assembly.
At a recent budget work session for school board members, RCS Superintendent Dr. George Norris highlighted how critical state funding for things such as technology and staff development are to smaller, more rural school systems such as Richmond County’s.
Filling the technological gap faced by students and teachers in the county has been the top priority of the RCS Education ever since the school realignment plan, however, as Kindley explained.
“Even three years ago, the economy was starting to show signs of weakening, and we started to realize something like these budget cuts may come,” she recalled of board discussions at the time.
While technology funding from the state is now eliminated, Foundation Vice President Butch Farrah explained the amounts the schools have received have not been enough to meet the needs of higher level students for some time.
“Even before the budget cuts, we didn’t have adequate funding for technology after the elementary grades,” he added.
“What we decided to do, as a board, was to try to fill the gap that was left, because the elementary schools already had technology - and so did the high schools,” Kindley said. “Where we saw the greatest need was in the middle schools and at the Ninth Grade Academy.”
The Ninth Grade Academy was the first school tackled by the Foundation, “because they didn’t have anything - it used to be a primary school,” Kindley explained.
That year, 22 classrooms at the Ninth Grade Academy received smart boards from the Foundation.
“That’s also the first place where all the kids of the county come together,” Farrah added.
Last year’s project outfitted 14 classrooms at Rockingham Middle School, and this year’s project outfitted another 10 there.
“Wherever the schools see the greatest need is where we’ll look for our project next year,” Kindley said.
In the meantime, Farrah explained the Foundation is looking at more options for fundraisers.
“I’d like to see us have the ability to be more involved in some estate planning in the community,” he said. “I think that would be a big boost for what we’re doing, and it could come from former educators or people who have a strong interest in the educational process.”
For more information about the Richmond County Schools Education Foundation, visit the school district Web site at www.richmond.k12.nc.us.
Staff Writer Philip D. Brown can be reached at (910) 997-3111 ext. 15, or by e-mail at email@example.com.