EXETER — The Wyoming Area School District, like several other school districts in the area, will soon seek monies from the community through its own foundation to help offset educational costs.
According to district Solicitor Jarrett Ferentino, the Wyoming Area Foundation will be used to solicit money from businesses and individuals seeking to contribute to the school district. The foundation held its first meeting on Aug. 25.
Ferentino said forming the foundation is a response to cuts in the district budget due to decreased state funding over the years, leading to less funding for extra-curricular and educational activities.
He noted that no extra-curricular activities have been cut from Wyoming Area, but the venture will be able to assist those groups financially. The foundation can also help fund items like textbooks and other supplies for classes within the district’s schools.
“The process for the foundation began about a year ago,” said Ferentino. “Some districts locally have done it, but always around budget time we talk about alternative sources of funding and our board was excited for the opportunity to create a foundation like this.”
Ferentino noted one of the reasons for the school’s budget constraints was the flood of 2011, citing the population reduction and subsequent loss of property tax revenue.
The foundation, Ferentino said, is currently in the process of obtaining 501c3 status, which will designate the group as a nonprofit and tax-exempt organization. Donors can also receive tax benefits.
By making a donation to the school’s foundation, businesses or individuals can note to the IRS they made a contribution to a 501c3 to receive a tax break based on their tax situation.
“Through that process, a contribution can be written off by the donor and they receive a tax benefit by making a contribution,” said Ferentino.
While the foundation is formed by the school’s board of education, Ferentino said members of the community can be named to the board and have a significant voice in raising and allocating funds.
Foundation meetings are open to the public. Ferentino said the next meeting will be some time within the next 30 days and will be advertised on the school’s website, www.wyomingarea.org.
He said there will also be an information session and an official announcement about the foundation sometime in the fall to let the public know it is operational.
“The district is hopeful that it will provide alternate sources of money that can underwrite projects and extra curricular activities that often-times fall victim to these cuts,” said Ferentino. “No matter what the foundation does, it endeavors to serve the best interest of the students. Any money that is contributed will go towards education and extra curricular initiatives that the constraints could have prevented.”
Other school districts in the area, including Dallas, Lake-Lehman and Wyoming Valley West, have also started district-wide foundations over the years to help offset costs.