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BLACKFOOT â€” Although the start of school is still a few weeks away, teachers and parents have already begun making preparations.
Teachers and school district patrons are among those who can benefit from participation with the Blackfoot Education, the Snake River Education Foundation or similar organizations in their school districts.
"Teachers can put money into the foundation and get tax breaks when they withdraw that money for needs in their classrooms," noted Colin Folsom. He is principal of Blackfoot's Ridge Crest Elementary and the liason between School District 55 and the education foundation.
Patrons â€” such as parents, grandparents or the public at large â€” can donate to their education foundation and designate that money to a specific school, teacher or program.
"From a parent's standpoint, it's a great way to donate and still get tax benefits," Folsom said.
Members of the Blackfoot Education Foundation board include Walter Gay as president with his wife Erma, Cathy Jo Call, Patsy Hays and Folsom as members. More volunteers are needed for the board. Call Folsom at 785-8894 for more information.
According to Marci VanOrden, a member of the Snake River Education Foundation board, it "was started in 1990 by a faithful group of patrons that understood that the education of our children was the most important gift that we could pass on to them. They understood that public schools wanted and needed the support of the parents and the community to be truly successful."
Over the past 20 years, the foundation has donated over $500,000 to Snake River schools. Much of it has gone to teachers through project grants, special fund grants, Heritage Club grants, teacher and employee of the year awards and teacher scholarships.
The Snake River Education Foundation raises funds through donations and its annual Halloween Carnival.
The Heritage Club raises money through payroll donations. Any teacher or classified employee who donates $200 or more during a school year receives a grant from half that donation which is deductible on the Idaho tax return.
"With economic conditions as they are now, now is when our foundation can make a difference," VanOrden said. "As we work with our local schools, we ultimately are helping each and every child who attends Snake River School District.
VanOrden is current president of the Snake River Education Foundation with Bonnie Egbert as vice president, Carol Hepworth as treasurer and Julie Wada as secretary. Teacher representatives are Deon Hillman and Laura Whittier. The school district liason is Korden Wray.