By Katie Crawford
The focus topic of the Wallingford-Swarthmore School Board meeting was the acknowledgment of another significant donation from the Foundation for Wallingford Swarthmore Schools. Foundation president Frannie Reilly and vice president Beth Ross informed the school board that foundation board members voted unanimously to allot $18,550 towards fully funding major initiatives at all schools, while $6,500 will be set aside to support 2016/2017 teacher grants. The recent Arts4Smarts fundraiser raised in excess of $25,000 with over 200 people attending the annual signature event.
Reilly emphasized the foundation’s mission to support innovation and excellence in district schools and highlighted the $130,000 that the foundation, a 501(c)(3) organization, has raised over the past five years. She credited multiple fundraising sources in addition to the Arts4Smarts event, including the Panther Run and Pancake breakfast, foundation sponsors, and donations directed through United Way. Given the increased pressure on school funding, Reilly noted certain programs could be at risk for cuts without the foundation’s financial support. Board member Paul Schregel echoed this observation, thanking Reilly and the foundation for their work, agreeing that certain initiatives have only become possible and sustainable through these additional funding streams.
Reilly described the major initiatives that foundation monies will support, which include programs at each district school. The three elementary schools’ robotics programs with additional, updated kits purchased for each school, will be allotted $9,500. Approximately, $4,050 will be put towards the creation of a Strath Haven Middle School multimedia studio with the goal of airing a weekly program, “This Week at SHMS,” throughout the school. Strath Haven High School will receive $5,000 for the creation of an interdisciplinary garden, which will incorporate a sustainable source of healthy foods, and a meditation garden.
Interim superintendent Dr. Michael Pladus commented that it appears there is finally a 2015-2016 state budget. Although Governor Tom Wolf did not sign the budget bill, neither did he veto it, so the budget was allowed to become law. The district stands to receive in excess of $149,000 shortly with the passage of this budget, however just under $500,000 still hangs in the balance from the state reimbursement plan, PlanCon (Planning and Construction Workbook).
PlanCon provides partial reimbursement to school districts for construction projects. Given the state’s budget issues, however, state government issued a moratorium on reimbursements despite having already granted approval of these projects. Many districts, WSSD included, structured their borrowing for construction based on receiving these funds.
Board president Dr. Richard Sonntag announced his resignation from the board of the Delaware County Intermediate Unit effective April 7. The school board unanimously voted to nominate board member Dr. Allison Karpyn in his place.
Lemons and Aid
In other district news:
• Wallingford Elementary School reported raising $1,800 in three days at Mrs. Gaur’s LemonAID stand for Relay for Life.
• Swarthmore-Rutledge School broke another attendance record at their now annual International night with over 350 people attending to sample foods from around the world.
• SHMS has raised over $16,000 to date for CADES, and students are looking forward to their next fundraiser, a night out at the Phillies.
• SHHS student Isabel Nonemaker was the 2016 recipient of the High School Leadership award from Widener University. The award recognizes “one current high school junior who has demonstrated courage by standing up for what is right, found a way to address a wrong, or made a difference in a significant way at his or her school or community.” Candidates are nominated by their principal and winners are recognized at the Constitution Center in Philadelphia.
• Finally, 120 students in grades K-12 have created artwork that will be displayed at the Community Arts Center in Wallingford through April 23.