Friday, August 26

August 28 Barbecue Benefits District's Support Organizations

By ALAN FROMAN | afroman@thisweeknews.com

Two South-Western City School District support organizations are joining forces for a Back to School BBQ fundraiser.

The event is scheduled from 2 to 6 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 28, at JP's Barbeque Ribs and Chicken at Bolton Field, 2000 Norton Road.

"It's a way to celebrate students in the South-Western district as the school year begins and bring the South-Western community together," said Ed Palmer, president of Success Beyond the Classroom.

"These are two great organizations that do so much to benefit students in our community," said Larry Titus, a trustee on the South-Western City Schools Educational Foundation board.

Titus, who organized the barbecue event with Mary Mulvany, a Success Beyond the Classroom board member, said the organizations were looking for way to help kick off the new school year and raise money.

More than 300 tickets had been sold for the Aug. 28 event, he said.

"It shows the great support both groups receive from the community," Titus said.

Tickets cost $10 for adults and $8 for children under 10 years old.

Heartland Bank will offer rides in its balloon and live music is planned, Titus said.

Airplanes rides also will be available at Bolton Field, with a portion of the proceeds contributed to the two organizations, he said.

The education foundation provides grants each fall to support innovative programs and scholarships each spring to graduating seniors. It has awarded more than $1.1 million in scholarships and grants since 1988, Titus said.

"We look for educational projects or initiatives that will benefit the most students," he said. "So we like to support programs that aren't just involving one teacher in one classroom, but students across a grade level at a school."

Projects that can be expanded throughout the district also are given special consideration, Titus said.

Teachers can submit grant applications through Sept. 7 for the 2016-17 school year, he said.

Success Beyond the Classroom is a nonprofit organization formed in 2010 after the district initiated pay-to-participate fees for high school bands and middle school and high school athletics for the 2009-10 school year.

The extracurricular programs had been cut after levy failures, but were reinstated with the fees after a successful ballot measure.

Actor and director Tyler Perry made a $100,000 donation in 2013, much of which was designated for Success Beyond the Classroom, after he watched a "Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel" report on HBO about South-Western's pay-to-participate fees.

"He stipulated that every student the following school year receive a scholarship," Palmer said. "The money we got from Tyler Perry is all gone, so we have to continue to replenish our coffers."

Describing athletics or band participation as being "extracurricular" activities is a misnomer, he said.

"They are an important part of a student's experience at school,' Palmer said. "The lessons students learn playing a sport or being in band can impact the rest of their lives."

Extracurricular activities could, and should, be thought of as co-curricular, he said.

The scholarships cover a portion of the participation fees. A student's family must pay the remainder.

South-Western charges a participation fee of $75 per sport for middle school athletics and cheerleading and Success Beyond the Classroom provides $50 scholarships.

The organization pays $75 of the $100 fee for high school marching band for students who qualify for scholarships, and it pays $100 of the $150 fee for each high school sport and cheerleading.

The district has a family cap of $500 per school year.

Palmer said since 2010, including this fall's sports, the organization has received 4,700 applications for scholarships and has funded 2,700 of them for a total of $ 205,395.

"It tears your heart to read some of the applications we receive," Palmer said. "A lot of families can't afford to pay the participation fees without our support."

As of Feb. 1, the education foundation has awarded 2,456 scholarships for a total of $183,820.