New Albany schools
Parents' foundation helps fund extracurriculars, clubs
Many New Albany-Plain Local students benefit from a nonprofit foundation established by local parents to help fund extracurricular activities and clubs.
The Foundation for Academic Excellence was started four years ago by local parents to support district programs that require an extra expense for students, said Parag Patel, one of the foundation's organizers.
"We want to allow any student to participate," Patel said. "We don't want funding to inhibit participation."
The foundation raises money from local businesses and parents.
Its newest fundraiser -- slated to be launched this month -- would create a partnership with local restaurants, which would donate a portion of their sales if diners present coupons from the foundation. Madhavi Diwanji, the foundation's fundraising coordinator, said a list of participating restaurants is not yet available.
Patel said in addition to providing monetary contributions to keep programs going, the Foundation for Academic Excellence also provides volunteers, leadership, website coordination and data collection and management.
"We want to help them build an infrastructure to become self-sustaining," Patel said.
He said the foundation is committed to strengthening the following programs: Adventure Club, Future Innovators of New Albany, Math Counts, the Ohio Model United Nations, Power of the Pen, science fairs, Science Olympiad, STEM Expeditions, the Indian Music Orchestra of Central Ohio and the Marine Biology Field Studies.
Patel said the programs are important for students, noting that four of the district's five National Merit Scholarship program semifinalists were members of the Science Olympiad team.
In related news, the school board Oct. 22 affirmed the district's activity fee of $35 for middle school students and $50 for high school students and included a provision for the superintendent to review program budgets and registration fees.
"This is to ensure the ability for students to participate and identify opportunities for equal access while assessing a reasonable cost," said district spokesman Patrick Gallaway. "The board is fully committed to providing these extracurricular activities for all students and believes they are an important complement to academic classroom learning."
Superintendent April Domine told the board the district's goal is to include all students in some activity, whether it is a sports team or a club.
"We want them all to participate in something, to all feel connected," Domine said.
Board member Natalie Matt said the activities help the students find a passion and follow it.
Board President Laura Kohler said finding a place to belong is an equally important part of education.
The district also has scholarship funds available to make sure students can participate if they can't afford the fees.