Funding teacher grant applications provides 'extras' in classroom

By BETH BUCH,

Making sure students and teachers across the Lamar County School District have the tools they need on a daily basis is the catalyst behind the Lamar County Education Foundation.

Formed back in the ’70s, it only survived three short years before it fell by the wayside when students graduated and parental support wavered. It was re-established in 2005 following Hurricane Katrina.

“It was essentially a volunteer organization put together to stand in the gap because of Legislative non-spending for public education for our school district,” said Marcia Line, who currently serves as the volunteer director. She noted that Joel Dunagin put the foundation together back in the day with the help of then-Superintendent of Education Glenn Swan.

Line is passionate about wanting the best learning experience possible for students in the Lamar County School District.

“This is a needful thing,” said Line. ‘We want to raise money and an awareness of our district at the same time.”

While the district does benefit from county tax revenue, Line said that’s not enough to fund the many extras that teachers need in the classroom. And with the foundation, every dollar donated goes straight back into the classroom.

While there are levels of sponsorship, Line is quick to point out that “any and all donations are greatly needed and appreciated.”

The foundation board is proud of those companies in the community who want to reinvest in the place where they do business. Origis Solar Energy is one such company that is giving back to the community through a donation to the foundation.

“We encourage all who wish to enhance the educational system of Lamar County to join us in this worthwhile endeavor,” Line said.

She said contributions can also be designated for specific projects or schools and donations to this non-profit 501(c)(3) are 100 percent tax deductible.

The Foundation supports all schools in the LCSD – Oak Grove, Baxterville, Purvis, Sumrall and Lumberton. The al-volunteer board is also represented by members from ever school in the district. With the recent addition of Lumberton, they are looking to add representatives from that part of the county.

“With the consolidation of the Lumberton schools into the district, we are looking for even more (teacher) applications than in the past,” Line said. “More applications mean more money needed to fund these grants.”

The value of the grants is based on how many are received and how much money there is to expense out.

Some businesses have been known to fund some of the applications that have to do with their type business

“I have a formula that has to do with how many students are involved in that particular class, so that everybody gest a percentage based on the number of students,” said Line. “That keeps it fair between all the schools – no matter the size.”

In the past, the Foundation has funded science magazines for a middle school, a lot of readers and have helped stock libraries that have out-of-date books, as well as reference books, which are super needful.

 “One year, when there were lots of changes and things were having to be sent home with students, the schools needed copy paper, so we bought that. We’ve also ordered 15,000 No. 2 pencils for testing purposes.”

And they’ve even funded the purchase of Chromebooks if it’s something they can join hands with somebody else and do.

Another way that the community can help is by listing the Foundation as an Amazon Smile charity. That ensures that every quarter Line receives some money, whether it’s $1 or $57. “I’ll take anything,” she said.

This year the Foundation is selling T-shirts to add to the educational piggy bank. The shirts, designed by Leslie Gonce, whose children have been part of the LCSD, feature a ‘1’, which encompasses all the school colors.

 “It was designed to show that with the consolidation of the Lumberton schools into the district we are unified,” explained Line. The shirts are available at Etsy.com.

Grant applications are currently being accepted through Sept. 28 and will be awarded the first two weeks of October.

“We want to stay on the cutting edge, which is the stuff we like to fund to keep our students viable, winning stars with our students and offering new stuff, which is the kind of stuff we like to fund to keep people stay viable as long as we can to invite people back out of Private school settings, to be involved. We want to invest in  a successful future for all of us.”