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Connellsville establishes nonprofit foundation

| Thursday, May 11, 2006

Connellsville Area School District solicitor Linda Cordaro has filed Articles of Incorporation with the Department of State to establish the nonprofit Connellsville Area School District Falcon Foundation.

An informational meeting will be held at 7 p.m. May 23 in room 128 at the high school. The public is encouraged to attend.

The academic foundation will accept donations and hold fundraisers to enhance students' educational experiences. Director Ed Zadylak characterizes the foundation as "a group of individuals sharing their time and talents to acquire resources and redistribute them back to the school district."

The foundation will be modeled on the Laurel Highlands Academic Foundation, which has been in place for several years and has purchased scientific equipment, SAT preparation software, funded SAT workshops, established a kindergarten lending library in all schools, sponsored artist- and author-in-residence programs for elementary classes and provides mini-grants for teachers to develop new and innovative projects and programs, among other services.

Zadylak said that building principals will present a "wish list" to superintendent James Duncan, who will prioritize it and present it to the foundation.

The Falcon Foundation will function independently of the school board, although the board president will hold a nonvoting seat. The district superintendent will also hold a nonvoting seat. No current school directors may serve, but past directors, past educators, business owners, parents and community members are welcome. Members must live within the school district.

The foundation will have either 9, 11, 13 or 15 members.

Because of its independence from the school board, Zadylak said that politics will not play a part in helping students.

Duncan said that members will be "a working group. They will have to come up with fundraising activities. Like our parent groups, those parents work hard. They're dedicated."

Zadylak said that a second meeting will be held after the informational session to elect officers and form committees. Laurel Highlands has allocation, fundraising, marketing and public relations, bylaws and nominating committees.

He was inspired to draft a resolution to form a foundation by the fund drives conducted by colleges and at neighboring Geibel Catholic High School. "We have to try something different," Zadylak added.

"You look at the socioeconomics of Fayette County and it's very tough," Duncan said. "We have to provide the same educational opportunities as the affluent districts."

"Everything from the foundation goes back into the classroom," Zadylak said. He added that he will make a small contribution towards postage for original fundraising letters and challenges other directors to do the same. "We've spent less than $1,000 in taxpayer money in legal fees to start this."

He said that the Falcon Foundation can use the district's television channel, 39, and also the district's Web site.

Although his involvement in the foundation has ended, Zadylak believes that the foundation "will be something that will last forever."

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