Becky Parks is the Executive Editor of Red River Family Magazine. Photos courtesy of LPS Foundation.
Imagine, if you can, that you are a local teacher. Imagine that your school system is besieged by budget cuts, and there is no money available for special projects to help educate the 15,000 students in the Lawton Public Schools (LPS). Now imagine that there’s no money available for much-needed classroom supplies. This situation is the reality that many Lawton educators found themselves in as far back as the early 1990s.
To help address these problems, the Lawton Public Schools Foundation, a 501(c)(3) organization, was founded in 1991 to address the issue of budget cuts within the Lawton Public Schools. Each year a portion of the foundation’s monies are given to teachers to help fund supplies and projects that the regular school budget does not cover. In its 25 years of existence, the foundation has disbursed hundreds of thousands of dollars to help teachers meet the needs of students and reach them in new and exciting ways.
For example, during the 2015 - 2016 school year, $85,000 was given to teachers. A few of the items that the grants funded were tower gardens to teach children the science and value of growing their own food, e-books for school libraries, language building programs, new technologies, and more.
As of July 1, 2016, the new Executive Director of the Lawton Public Schools Foundation is Lisa Carson, a retired Lawton Public Schools principal. Carson points out that the Lawton Public Schools Foundation is a completely separate, non- profit entity that is not affliated with LPS. The board of the Lawton Public Schools Foundation is comprised of citizens from all walks of life. There are business leaders, retirees, parents, and others serving on the board.
“We want the board of the LPS Foundation to be as diverse as the people we are representing, “ Carson said.
In 2011, retired Eisenhower High School teachers Elaine and Bernice Smith left $300,000 to the foundation, which now has just over $1.3 million in assets. Still, the continued budget cuts to education coupled with the ongoing needs of teachers and students means the foundation must keep raising funds to assist the educational system in Lawton.
If you’d like to become a Pillar Member of the foundation, donations are $1000 for a business, $500 for an individual, and $250 for an LPS employee or retiree.
For more information on the Lawton Public Schools Foundation or to make a donation, call 580.595.8323 or visitLawtonPSF.org.