A local education foundation is losing its school district backing after a disappointing six-year run.
Provo School District Superintendent Michael Jacobsen said the decision to no longer fund the Provo Education Foundation was administrative, but the school board concurred with the decision during a closed-door meeting in February.No public announcement was made. The school district's association with the fund-raising foundation will end June 30.
The Provo board has been talking about dissolving its association with the foundation for at least two years, Jacobsen said.
At the foundation's inception in 1991, the school district's involvement was scheduled to end in 1995 but has continued until now.
Jacobsen said the district kept the program going with the assertion that it was "right on the verge of making big money.
"But it never happened."
Over the past six years the foundation raised slightly more than $500,000 in hard cash for the district, while the school district has paid out up to $450,000 in administrative costs, Jacobsen said.
Foundation Director Steve Hall said the district didn't give the organization enough time. To get such an operation going takes five to 10 years, he said. "This was just coming of age."
But he acknowledged the group "has a long way to go in letting the community know what the foundation is about."
He said the district's decision to pull its funding came as a surprise. "We were blindsided - not just me, but the whole board," Hall said. "We felt we were doing great.
Foundation President Lorna Plothow said the group's board of directors will discuss at an April 1 meeting, the effect of the district's action on the foundation's future. "`We're determined to keep it going."
Plothow said the board will request funding from the school district for a half-time executive director, despite the district's determination to distance itself from the group. The foundation may request from $25,000 to $35,000, she said.
The foundation's original goal was to raise education money the district couldn't get from the state Legislature. Hall said he never knew the district's expectations and never received an evaluation of his efforts. "We did a lot of good," he said.
Plothow acknowledged that the foundation hasn't generated the kind of cash the district wanted. Instead, she said, the foundation became involved in school programs and philosophy.
Among the foundation's programs was an effort that placed some 300 mentors throughout the district to give school children a boost. "You can't give that a dollar figure," Hall said. It also assembled more than 100 education-business partnerships, he said.
Plothow said the foundation needs to focus more on fund-raising than programs and come up with a real plan for that.
But Plothow said the foundation was involved in raising $2.9 million in cash, grants and in-kind donations over its six years.
The district claims most of that would have come in anyway without the foundation's help.
"The question is, who generated it," Plothow said. "In many instances all monies like that flow through the foundation, but that's not always happened here, so it's hard to determine."
Hall was involved in getting $1.4 million in grants, she said, but some grants may have been written by school principals that didn't flow through the foundation.
Plothow said an estimated $650,000 in supplies and equipment donated through the foundation was not counted with the cash the group generated, nor was another $336,000 linked to certain projects that involved the foundation, she said.
Jacobsen said the foundation, not the district, decides how the money it raises is spent. The district money formerly used to fund the foundation, including Hall's $70,000 annual salary, fringe benefits included, will be used to fund an at-risk program for troubled teens.
The district has no voting members on the foundation's board, but totally funds the administrative costs.
The foundation board is made up of about two dozen Provo residents including entrepreneurs, government officials, bankers, at least one teacher and people involved in the community.