Matching funds allow schools to do more

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, January 11, 2012

By Sarah Campbell
The Rowan-Salisbury School System only has to spend about $301,000 to get nearly $600,000 worth of projects done.
That’s thanks to its matching funds program.
“This came about as a way to get the community involved in helping our schools,” Gene Miller, the district’s assistant superintendent of operations, said. “Basically, if schools raise a dollar, we’ll give them dollar, so they have $2.”
The district will provide at least a 50 percent match of funds raised at each school, up to $10,000.
Some schools can receive the entire $10,000 if they raise at least $3,000. Those guidelines are based on the percentage of students who receive free or reduced lunch.
“We’re aware that some areas aren’t quite as affluent,” Miller said.
Thirty-three of the district’s schools are taking advantage of the matching funds this year. More than half of the projects revolve around technology.
Morgan Elementary School raised more than $17,500 to put toward a laptop cart and security cameras. The matching grant will bring the project in at $27,538.
Morgan Principal Susan Sigmon said the majority of the funds came in through the schools Invest in a Child initiatives, which allows community members to give on behalf of a specific student.
Sigmon said the additional laptop cart will allow the school to have one for students in kindergarten through second grades and another for third through fifth-graders.
“We need to make laptops to be more accessible to students,” she said.
The school will also install security cameras as a safety measure.
“We’re not in the city limits, we’re out here on our own,” Sigmon said.
Sigmon said the video cameras will monitor activity at the school after hours and on the weekends.
“It’s just to keep our people safe,” she said. “Safety is our top priority.”
Knox Middle School will also be utilizing matching funds to purchase technology.
Students at the school raised more than $13,000 through their Invest in a Child fundraiser.
Knox Principal Dr. James Davis said students did a variety of things to raise money, including car washes, jean days and even creating their own brochures and flyers to hand out.
“The kids really bought into it,” he said.
The school will use about $20,000 to purchase a variety of technology.
“We’ve got about 10 classrooms that need Promethean boards,” Davis said. “We are also looking to add document cameras and Active expressions to each team.”
Davis said Active expressions allows students to answer questions immediately from their desks, with results going straight to the teacher.
Document cameras give students the opportunity to share their work with the entire class.
“They come up and lay it on the base and it’s displayed for everyone,” Davis said. “It’s a good way for students to interact and get feedback from the whole group.”
Some schools are opting to put their matching fund toward pricey items such as band uniforms, cafeteria furniture and the construction of covered walkways.
South Rowan High School plans to purchase a new tractor with its portion of the funds. The school will trade in its current tractor for $13,000 and receive a $10,000 match from the district. Any remaining costs will be picked up by the school’s alumni chapter of the Future Farmers of America.
David Overcash, an agriculture teacher at the school, said the current Ford tractor was purchased in 1994.
“We thought it was a good idea to update to one that is more comparable to what student would come into contact with,” he said.
Overcash said new models also have more advanced safety features, which are important for novice users.
“We’re really lucky the county offers this,” he said. “We’re able to acquire equipment for half the cost so it’s really a win-win for the county and the school.”
Overcash said every student who takes an agriculture class ends up using the tractor at some point. Students also use it to prepare the plots to grow strawberries in conjunction with the Piedmont Research Station.
“We use it in a lot of different capacities,” he said. “If we didn’t have it, it would be a real disadvantage.”
Miller said despite cuts to the district’s capital budget, the school board has continued to allocate monies toward the matching funds projects.
“I think it is a super program,” he said. “It’s a way for the community to help with the efforts of our individual schools and get projects done that would otherwise be put on the back burner.”
Contact reporter Sarah Campbell at 704-797-7683.

Summary of matching funds projects
• Bostian Elementary — Raised $8,703, received $10,000 match for technology; 
• Overton Elementary — Raised $5,000, received $10,000 match for technology; 
• China Grove Elementary — Raised $4,186, received match of $9,768 for technology and lab supplies;
• Cleveland?Elementary — Raised $9,573, received $10,000 math for a playground set; 
• Koontz Elementary — Raised $1,620, received $3,780 for a projector screen with projector; 
• Shive Elementary — Raised $8,000, received $10,000 for interactive white boards and projectors; 
• Enochville?Elementary — Raised $9,568, received $10,000 for technology; 
• Faith?Elementary — Raised $8,100, received $9,900 to remove carpet and replace with tile; 
• Granite Quarry Elementary — Raised $5,892, received $10,000 for document cameras and projects; 
• Isenberg Elementary — Raised $4,500, received $10,000 for iPods and a cart;
• Hanford Dole Elementary — Raised $5,590, received $10,000 for a covered walkway;
• Hurley Elementary — Raised $13,919, received $10,000 to create a learning lab with MacBook computers;
• Knollwood Elementary — Raised $4,877, received $10,000 for the office and a security makeover;
• Landis Elementary — Raised $1,358, received $2,523 for exterior paging horns and two-way radios;
• Millbridge Elementary — Raised $9,608, received $10,000 for technology; 
• Morgan Elementary — Raised $17,538, received $10,000 for computers and security cameras; 
• Mt. Ulla Elementary — Raised $4,000, received?$6,000 to renovate the playground area;
• North Rowan Elementary — Raised $4,185, received $9,765 for a covered walkway;
• Rockwell Elementary — Raised $9,720, received $10,000 for technology;
• Woodleaf Elementary — Raised $10,000, received $10,000 for technology and playground equipment;
• Erwin Middle — Raised $23,499, received?$10,000 for cafeteria furniture;
• China Grove Middle — Raised $8,857, received $10,000 for technology;
• Corriher Lipe Middle — Raised $4,000, received $6,000 for technology;
• Knox Middle — Raised $9,756, received $10,000 for technology; 
• North Rowan — Raised $4,208, received $9,820 for technology;
• Southeast Middle — Raised $9,819, received $10,000 for technology;
• West Rowan Middle — Raised $5,868, received $8,802 for technology and security cameras; 
• East Rowan High — Raised $5,740, received $8,610 for a new HVAC for the field house, weight and wrestling rooms;
• Carson High — Raised $4,600, received $6,900 for stadium improvements; 
• North Rowan High — Raised $22,693, received $10,000 for band uniforms;
• Salisbury High — Raised $6,666, received $10,000 for athletic field improvements;
• South?Rowan High — Raised $13,699, received $10,000 to buy a new tractor;
• West Rowan High — Raised $9,093, received $10,000 for upgrades to the stadium sound system