For Peggy Barnes, the South Routt School District is much more than where she sent her children and taught for 37 years. Schools are also where she meets on weekends to watch sporting events and see friends, attend community events and where she believes the country’s future leaders learn and grow.
“Whether or not you have children involved in the district, everyone supports the schools and the children,” she said.
In an effort to improve the quality of education and provide better opportunities for children in South Routt schools, Barnes and several other South Routt residents have partnered with the Yampa Valley Community Foundation to create South Routt Education Endowment Fund.
The fund was first established in 2011 and is currently around $ 20,000, and there hasn’t been much fundraising going on for almost a decade. With renewed interest, the fund’s organizers hope to eventually reach $ 1 million.
“Our school district relies on steadily shrinking public funds,” said Barnes. “We hope this will be the thing that keeps our very poor little neighborhood afloat.”
The purpose of the fund is to create a permanent and discretionary source of funding for the South Routt School District. Once this goal is achieved, a committee of educators, students and community members from South Routt will donate the funds each year. They can be used for the modernization of buildings and playgrounds, buses, notice boards, sports facilities, arts and music studio spaces, science labs and store equipment.
Once the fund reaches $ 25,000, local resident Russ Garrity and his family have pledged a matching donation because South Routt schools are a special place to them.
“Educating our children is extremely important in everything we do,” Garrity said. “We’re such a small school district that when we pay to clear snow and heat buildings, we just don’t have a lot of money to spend and that’s not fair.”
Routt County Commissioner Tim Corrigan, who represents South Routt, said he was unsure how many donations the fund would receive due to a lack of financial resources in Oak Creek and Yampa, but most donations come from the local population.
The district continues to see high test scores and overall academic performance as around 50% of its students qualify for low income to qualify for a reduced lunch.
Corrigan said the district has lost students and teachers over the years to the Steamboat Springs School District, a more affluent district that can provide teachers with better salaries and students with more resources.
“We knew that if we could hit a certain threshold we would start to be taken more seriously and that at that point we could start attracting other people who could see our students’ successes,” said Corrigan. “It behooves us to do what we can to provide these opportunities for our children and give them a reason to stay in our school district.
The community is invited to learn more and join the matchmaking challenge by donating to yvcf.org/sorocoedfund.
To reach Alison Berg, call 970-871-4229 or email [email protected]