Frequently Asked QuestionsWhat is a local education foundation?
Local Education Foundations began in the 1980s to mobilize public support for public schools. LEFs work independently from the school districts in which they are located and have their own staff and board of directors. But we work closely with the schools. We listen to teachers’ innovative ideas. We include top district administrators as ex-officio members of our Board of Directors. We try to be as responsive as possible to principals and administrators who seek to take a fresh approach to improve teaching and learning.
Board members serve 3-year terms and are nominated to serve by current members. The Board has a Foundation Division which is tasked with the overall financial development of the organization, and the Operations Division, which is comprised of the Programs Committee and the Public Awareness & Events Committee.
Businesses, individuals and community organizations support PEP through gifts of their time and dollars. In addition, PEP writes grants to foundations and governmental agencies. These grants, when successful, often go directly to the schools, although increasingly PEP writes proposal to fund its own programs.
Local tax dollars pay about 30% of the school district’s $160 million budget (visit SC Dept of Education for more information). Another 58% comes from state and about 11% from the federal government all of which are earmarked for salaries, supplies and equipment. In addition, the maintenance and construction of buildings is usually around $30 million. Public Education Partners use their dollars to provide funds where tax dollars don’t reach. Initiatives include high quality teacher training, programs that require students to take responsibility for their learning, and expansion and replication of successful programs that would not happen without the funding, coordination and encouragement that Public Education Partners provides. PEP’s dollars are flexible and expand the community’s involvement in public education.
The first strategic plan, begun in 1995, was given to PEP (then known as Greater Aiken Local Education Foundation) by the Aiken 20/20 strategic planning process for the City of Aiken. In 2000, the organization changed its name to Public Education Partners and began to serve the entire school district. A new strategic plan was developed by community volunteers, including business, faith, education, agencies, and concerned citizens. In 2004, the Strategic Plan Committee of the board of directors set new goals that guided PEP’s work for the next few years. The Board has recently completed the 2006-2011 Strategic Plan called Every Kid, Every Day.
Our new strategic plan contains 5 areas of work:
- Public Awareness – increasing public involvement in public schools
- Students – supporting reading, science, math, technology, the arts and preparation for higher education and the workplace
- Teachers – teacher recruitment and retention, teacher grants for innovation, teacher training and recognition of excellence
- The Education System – encouraging the use of data as part of a learning organization
- Facilities and Technology – supporting the District’s efforts to improve technology and attract resources for facilities
Each project is evaluated. Teacher grant applications include measurable goals and schools make presentations to our investors each fall at a special reception. Great Leaps Reading data is collected on each student and evaluated. We also use outside evaluators from time to time.