How green is our Valley

By Paula Aven Gladych
The Daily Times-Call

LONGMONT — When it comes to public schools, the hearts and wallets of St. Vrain Valley residents appear to be large.

In response to the the St. Vrain Valley School District’s financial crisis, which put it in the hole $13.8 million, hundreds of companies, nonprofit organizations and individuals donated $601,938 in cash and supplies during the 2002-03 school year.

That was up from $405,103 donated during the 2001-02 budget year.

The donations do not include money raised through the Support Our Students program, a private effort launched late last year.

No gift was too small to earn the district’s thanks, from a $50 television donated by to Prairie Ridge Elementary School by Stormy Ghoering to a $10 set of highlighter markers donated by Shannon and Steve Thomas for use in a literacy class at Prairie Ridge Elementary School.

Donations to the district included $5,000 given by Melody Homes to Frederick Elementary School for participating in the Melody Homes Reading Challenge.

“Certainly, when the school district needed to freeze all of its expenditures, no money going out, a number of schools and departments were unable to buy supplies,” said district spokeswoman Nancy Herbert.

Because the district didn’t have a stockpile of supplies to draw from in most cases, “there was a very large rush from the community, with parents dropping supplies off at school buildings,” she said.

Anonymous donations also came in, which might not be included in the final charitable giving numbers for the 2002-03 budget year.

“The community came forward quickly and efficiently and were kind-hearted in the way they helped our schools as soon as that happened,” Herbert said.

IBM, one of the largest employers in the area, came forward immediately, donating an entire pallet of paper to the district.

Another large donations — $2,500 toward the end of the year — came from from The Colorado Trust, a Denver-based charitable foundation. The gift was intended for use in student activities and came in response to one of the foundation’s board members, Stephen Clark, who donated $1,250 to the district.

The trust has a program that provides a two-for-one match on charitable contributions made by its trustees or employees.

“Obviously, it was a priority for one of our board members that (the district) receive that money,” said Christie McElhinney, senior communications officer at the trust. “On the whole, the trust has a set focus for its giving, but it is focused on the health and well-being of the people of Colorado.”

Wendi Nafziger, vice president of the Longmont Area Economic Council, said her organization donated $1,000 in computer equipment to Mountain View Elementary School.

“That’s where my kids go to school, and I knew there was a need at that school,” she said.

When LAEC upgraded its computer system, its leaders didn’t know where to donate a Dell and a Gateway computer, both two years old. Since Nafziger has kids in the St. Vrain district, she suggested giving them to the schools.

St. Vrain received $604,000 in charitable gifts in the 2000-01 school year and $513,000 in the 1999-2000 school year.

As for the SOS fund, started by Longmont United Hospital, it is “outstanding in its efforts to help us gain more items, supplies and program enhancements,” said Herbert.

Paula Aven Gladych can be reached at 303-776-2244, Ext. 211, or by e-mail at pavengladych@times-call.com.


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