Chesterton Tribune



Charter School turns to Community Foundation to help with fund campaign

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Discovery Charter School officials are condensing a list of items to purchase for the next school year and will launch a campaign in the fall with a little help from the Porter County Community Foundation.

At the Discovery Board of Directors meeting on Wednesday, member Allan Gabriele told his peers he met recently with associates from the Foundation and feels there is real opportunity for collaboration on strategic planning given the organization’s expertise.

“I think we have a potential partnership in the works,” he said.

The Foundation assists non-profits like the Discovery Charter School by helping facilitate ways to provide long-lasting support by connecting those organizations with donors interested in giving to their cause or by building an endowment that can be a steady source of interest income while the original funds remain untouched.

Gabriele said the Foundation is there to assist in professional development and work with leaders on setting goals and strategies with the use of facilitators.

The partnership would help Discovery connect with the community and potential donors or investors, he said.

Gabriele is the board’s leader on Discovery’s Development Plan committee which meets regularly to coordinate efforts between the school, parents and community to create a plan to reach development goals. The committee, which is made up of school administrators and parents, was created last summer.

Members will be speaking to the local Kiwanis group in the near future on what the mission of Discovery is, Gabriele said.

The Foundation could also be a resource in the board’s search to fill its open seat which has been vacant for a year. Board president Laurie Metz had initially suggested finding a candidate with an environmental background similar to the previous seat holder but she and her fellow board members now feel that a candidate with the skills for networking and development may be more desirable.

“I think if the right candidate came along, we would be looking to add them,” Metz said.

Gabriele said the Foundation can give advice on how to build the board and orientate new members.

Right now, the development committee is assisting in determining funding priorities for the school for a fall campaign. As a beginning step, the committee will publish a note in the first newsletter of the school year telling the various items the school wishes to purchase with donations such as new bulletin boards, books for the library and materials for the outdoor garden.

Gabriele said donated items will provide some relief in the budget for other funding priorities like professional development.

President of the Community Foundation Barb Young told the Tribune on Thursday her organization does not directly give funding to public schools but it can help non-profit groups that benefit the school districts, such as the Duneland Education Foundation, raise money. Those who invest with the Foundation are likely to see optimum investment returns and can choose from a large pool of assets, Young said.

The Foundation also trains their partners how to look for grant opportunities.

“We try to give them the support to do what they need to do,” Young said.


In other business, the board voted unanimously to approve a preliminary budget for the 2013-14 school year.

Josh Samuelson, senior accountant for Discovery’s management company American Quality Schools, said the Indiana Department of Education has not released what will be the final total for this year’s basic charter school grant but the information received so far indicates that the per-pupil funding could be increased by 12 percent which is what the board had heard at its previous meeting.

Samuelson said he expects to know the official figures from the DOE by July 15.

As for all public schools, two student counts are made per year, one in September which is generally the higher count over the second count which takes place in January.

Attendance drops

Discovery Director Ernesto Martinez said that the overall student attendance for the 2012-13 year turned out to be the lowest it has ever been for the school with an average of 94.4 percent. Discovery’s goal is an attendance rate of 96 percent.

Martinez also announced registration dates for the upcoming school year have been set for Tuesday, July 30 and Wednesday, July 31.




Posted 6/28/2013