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New foundation taking shape to support South Butler schools

| Friday, Sept. 13, 2013, 6:53 p.m.

The new Knoch Knights Legacies Foundation is forging ahead to establish a new source of funding for the South Butler School District.

“The school board is hopeful the new foundation will help us continue to provide quality educational programs and facilities for our students during these difficult financial times for school districts and taxpayers,” school board president Nelda Burd said in an emailed statement. “The new foundation has been established to help the district fund educational programs, technology enhancements and facilities improvements.”

The school board launched the nonprofit foundation in April. It establishes a formal channel for community donations like those received for lights at the football field and basketball courts and building the band shelter at the stadium.

The foundation is still in its infancy and next steps include finalizing bylaws and forming foundation goals and a mission statement.

South Butler is among several local school districts that have recently formed foundations to support school district classroom activities that can no longer be covered by the district budget. Freeport, Allegheny Valley and the Mars Area school districts also have fledgling foundations.

There are about 230 foundations among the state's 500 school districts, according to Bob New, founder and CEO of Pennsylvania Education Foundations, which is dedicated to promoting the foundations and aiding them in being successful.

“There's a financial crisis in education,” New said. “Public school districts are in pretty dire straits and, in a lot of cases, are trying to keep up with declining state funding in their districts, knowing that they can't raise taxes.”

South Butler School District's foundation stemmed from a successful fundraising campaign for a new stadium scoreboard and marquee. The foundation board has been seeking advice from New.

The nine-member Knoch Knights foundation board includes three school board members, Burd, James Jones and Linda Rieck.

The board recently elected as president Brian Kanterman, 50, of Penn Township. He is a former school board member and is a self-employed sales and marketing consultant.

The other community members include: Ray Conlon, an attorney with Conlon Tarker; Corina Diehl, president of Diehl Automotive Group; Keith Frndak, CEO of Concordia Lutheran Ministries; Steve Muck, President of Brayman Construction; and Regis Schiebel, a retired South Butler School District administrator.

Of the nine school districts in Butler County, at least five have education foundations.

Meanwhile, long-established foundations in other areas are searching for new ways to be effective.

The education foundation for the Apollo-Ridge School District, which covers portions of Indiana and Armstrong counties, has begun seeking donations from businesses that qualify for tax breaks under the state Educational Improvement Tax Credit Program.

New said the state's foundations have been generating between $2 million and $3 million a year through the EITC.

“It's really a major benefit,” he said.

Jodi Weigand is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-226-4702 or jweigand@tribweb.com.

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