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Foundation may receive county help

March 19, 2001

Foundation may receive county help



By TARA REILLY

tarar@herald-mail.com

The Washington County Commissioners are deciding whether to fund a part-time position that would oversee grant money and endowments for the Washington County Educational Foundation.

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The nonprofit foundation was set up in 1996 with $10,000 in its account, but has been inactive since 1998. It has about $8,200 remaining in the fund, school officials have said. The organization was started by business and community leaders to collect and distribute money for county educational purposes.

It was run by its 11-member board, not the Washington County Board of Education. School Board member Roxanne Ober said nine people remain on the foundation board and have been contacted about helping to revive it. Four have said they'd be interested, Ober said.

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School Board members think that hiring a paid person to oversee the foundation's account would help make it successful. They also think the foundation could be a tool to bring additional money into the school system.

The previous foundation board did not have a paid person to deal with grants and endowments.

The commissioners and the School Board recently discussed the issue at a public meeting.

"We need a comprehensive marketing plan, not just another grant writer," Ober said.

The commissioners, however, want more details on why the foundation didn't work the first time and a list of people who would be committed to it.

The commissioners are also looking for assurances that the foundation will succeed a second time before they commit to paying for the position.

"There's a reason why it didn't succeed in the first place, and I'd hate to see that happen again," said County Commissioner Bert Iseminger. "I would like to see more information."

"It just never took off," County Commission President Greg Snook said. "It needs to be run by business people."

County Commissioner John Schnebly said the position should involve more than just writing grants and that the School Board needs to draw a clearer picture of the foundation's purpose.

He also said the foundation would have to bring in several million dollars a year for it to be a force in the school system.

"If we're looking at a $2 million enterprise, that's shooting too low," Schnebly said.

School Board members said the paid position would include about 15 to 20 hours a week with no benefits.

"We're not really talking about a tremendous amount of salary," said School Board member Paul Bailey.

"You get what you pay for, Paul," Iseminger said. "And if you're looking for someone who's going to go after big dollars, you're going to have to pay it."

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