Thursday, April 27, 2000

Patton: Foundation is example for schools

By Andrea Tortora
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        ERLANGER — Kentucky should put another generation's worth of reform efforts into its public schools to ensure a quality education for all students, Gov. Paul Patton said Wednesday.

        He cited the efforts of the Boone County Education Foundation as an example of one way schools can do more for students. He spoke at the foundation's “governor's luncheon,” which raised $20,000 for the district.

        “Building good schools takes time,” Mr. Patton said. “You don't overcome 100 years of neglect in a few years or even a generation.”

        Instead, schools should focus on all aspects of education, including the basic needs a child requires to be ready to learn.

        That means providing meals, clothing, even health care to students in need. It also means extending school services to adults.

        Such efforts, he said, will lead to the kind of “intellectual capital” Kentucky needs to be successful.

        “It is the intellectual work that will bring the rewards we want people to have,” Mr. Patton said. “It can no longer be physical labor. It must be mental labor.”

        And that's where groups such as the Boone County Education Foundation play an important role, he said.

        The foundation, started in 1995, helps the school district pay for things the general fund doesn't cover, such as additional computers and teacher training.

        Foundation President Keith Noel said the group will meet with school officials to determine the best use for the money raised Wednesday.

        The foundation also creates partnerships with businesses such as Toyota Motor Corp., which donated nearly $100,000 in used computers this year.

        That donation and other business partnerships made the district eligible for Qualified Zone Academy Bonds.

        Created when Congress passed the Taxpayer Relief Act of 1997, the bonds are like no-interest loans. For every $100,000 borrowed with no interest, the district gets $1 million in bonding potential.

        Boone County Schools will spend $19 million to modernize and expand three schools: Burlington and Florence elementaries and Boone County High.

        Of that amount, 75 percent will be financed through bonds, saving taxpayers $1 million.

        To qualify, schools must be in an empowerment zone or have at least 35 percent of students eligible for free and reduced lunch. Schools also must have a partnership with a business that makes a contribution worth 10 percent of the bond proceeds.

        Cincinnati Public Schools plan to apply for the Qualified Zone Academy status within 30 days, district Treasurer Dick Gardner said.

        In Kentucky, only a handful of school districts applied for the bonds. Mr. Patton praised Boone County for doing so. “I want to find out why other schools aren't taking advantage of this.”


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