By Lisa Singleton-Rickman Staff Writer
The Colbert County school system will kick off its new education foundation with a ribbon cutting at 4 p.m. Wednesday at the central office.
The foundation has been in the works for the past 18 months, according to Matt Dalrymple, the district's grant writer/public relations director.
"Our system, like others, gets federal and state money but they also dictate how the money is spent," Dalrymple said. "Foundation money that is raised goes directly to meet needs in the classroom. It doesn't have strings attached."
The foundation will disperse money through teacher grants, he said. Programs in the district that don't have funding streams could also be supplemented through the foundation.
Dalrymple said it is his hope new, innovative programs can begin as a result of the foundation's help.
The Colbert County Education Foundation comes on the heels of other similar foundations that have provided assistance to their member schools.
Tuscumbia, Sheffield, Muscle Shoals and Florence school systems all have foundations.
Administrators in those foundations have been helpful in sharing information with those developing the Colbert foundation, Dalrymple said.
"These folks have been a huge help and so gracious to help us as we are building this from the ground up," he said.
Various fundraisers will be held with a yet-to-be-determined signature event to be held in either the fall or spring.
"We're still looking into how we'll be raising money, but we want our events to be special and engaging for everyone throughout the county," Dalrymple said. "Our goal is to raise $50,000 per year through the foundation and have every penny to go to kids."
Dalrymple said one of the greatest needs in the district is technology, including Chromebooks and iPads for classroom use, as well as other innovative tools that promote learning, such as SmartBoards and student-interactive devices and classroom equipment.
Donations from the public will be sought as well as corporate contributions. Various modes for giving will be established.
The foundation will be under the direction of a 16-member board with representatives from all sectors of Colbert County.
Superintendent Gale Satchel said the foundation, though in the birthing stage, represents a means of putting resources back into the hands of teachers.
"We're looking forward to advancing the district, and this is just the start of great things happening for our schools," she said.
Tax-deductible donations to the foundation may be made now through Paypal on the school district's website at colbert.k12.al.us. T-shirts are available for order with the district's new logo and brand.
Wednesday's ribbon cutting, in cooperation with the Shoals Chamber of Commerce, will be followed by refreshments and guided tours of the Colbert Board of Education. The public is invited.