School Group To Raise Money
South Brunswick Post - by Davy James - October 14, 2010
  As school districts across New Jersey struggle to deal with diminished aid money from the state, some key members of the community in South Brunswick have established a fundraising arm to help meet the educational needs of the township.

  The Education Foundation of South Brunswick Township, Inc., is a non-profit organization that hopes to address fiscal needs in the district and to help develop programming for students.

  ”With funding as it is in public schools we thought this would be a great opportunity to fund programs that have been affected by budget crunches,” said foundation President Robert Long. “The money we raise can be used for grant programs within the district and for scholarships with three themes in mind, which are the three pillars of a quality education: Academics, Athletics and the Arts.”

  Foundation Vice President Martin Abschutz, a member of the Board of Education, said the idea for the foundation began three years ago and the organizers have been moving deliberately to get the structure for the foundation in place. Mr. Abschutz said the foundation will be able to create an opportunity to put innovative educational ideas and programming into action.

  ”One of the visions I have is if a member of the faculty comes up with an idea to do something differently than what we’re doing now, we could provide the seed money for that teacher to do the project and see how it comes out,” Mr. Abschutz said. “We’re looking for innovative and creative ideas on how to do things that may get better outcomes than we’re getting now and can offer us room for improvement.”

  Mr. Abschutz added that the foundation will be able to offer assistance within the district as future cuts to state education aid remain a realistic possibility. The district recently learned it would be receiving $836,858 through the Federal Education Jobs Act, but officials are wary that the amount may be cut from state aid figures for next year.

  ”It’s no secret that funding for education in New Jersey is in big trouble,” Mr. Abschutz said. “Reading between the lines of the letter we received from the state education commissioner regarding the jobs bill, it tells us to think long and hard before spending the money. Between the lines there’s a likelihood that state aid will be diminished by at least the amount we receive through the jobs bill. The Board of Education will continue to focus on doing the best we can with what we have, but this foundation will offer the opportunity to think outside the box a little bit.”

  The foundation is currently working with a five-year plan in place for fundraising goals. Mr. Abschutz said the foundation hopes to raise $10,000 in its first year and double that figure each successive year, with the goal at the end of five years to be raising $160,000 per year.

  ”I see this as a unique opportunity to continue to support the district with things that can’t be funded through public funding,” Mr. Long said. “There are a lot of things we’re looking at. We can’t speculate, but if we ever got to the point where we had to fund something like full-day kindergarten, this would allow us to do so. I don’t know that would happen, but those are the kinds of things we look at as an opportunity to step in, support and cooperate with the district to fund things that are necessary for a quality education in South Brunswick.”

  The foundation’s leaders said they don’t expect the foundation to be in a position in which it could fund ongoing operations in the district, but it would be able to fund areas outside of the budget like specific programs. They said the strength of the foundation lies in its board of trustees, who bring a wealth of experience from serving many years on the Board of Education and numerous other contributions they made to the township.

  The Education Foundation will be holding a fundraiser kickoff event on Oct. 25 from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. with “A Taste for Education,” a gala to be held at the Doubletree Hotel Princeton on Route 1 and Ridge Road. The gala will feature samples and selections from local restaurants, caterers and wineries.

  Music will be provided by the South Brunswick High School choir and the gala will include raffles and a silent auction with sports tickets, paraphernalia, signed books and more.

  Tickets for the event are $50, which are tax deductible. To order tickets or for more information on the foundation, visit Questions can be directed to Dawn Chromey at 732-274-9134 or Mariann Long at 732-422-4819.

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