Durango donors give $200K to prevent school cuts
June 3, 2011
DURANGO, Colo. (AP) – Colorado schools have been bracing for painful budget cuts next year because of declining state support. In Durango, local philanthropists are giving some $200,000 to make sure school cuts in their community don’t go too deep.
The Durango-based Marc and Jane Katz Family Fund is giving the money to Durango School District 9-R and the associated Durango Foundation for Educational Excellence.
District Superintendent Keith Owen tells the Durango Herald that the donation will allow the system to keep funding an elementary school health center. It will also allow interested high school students to continue taking classes at Southwest Colorado Community College or Fort Lewis College, called concurrent enrollment. Owen said the donation would also help support band and music programs throughout the district.
“It’s really helping us to accomplish some key initiatives we would have struggled to do otherwise,” Owen said.
Part if the donation, $25,000, is going to the Durango Foundation for Educational Excellence for school programs aimed at enhancing reading and writing instruction and intervention, said Bitten Skartvedt, the foundation’s director. The foundation’s goal was to give more than $50,000 in grants to support such programs in district schools next year, Skartvedt said.
Marc Katz says he gave the money in response to declining state support for education. The fund gave about $100,000 last year.
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“I’m trying to buffer some of the effects of cuts in budgets at the school,” said Katz, who is co-founder of Mercury Payment Systems, which helps retailers process credit, debit and check payments.
Katz’s foundation also gave Durango schools about $100,000 last year to support concurrrent enrollment and a mill-levy override campaign. Owen said the donations have been invaluable.
“The Katz foundation has given tremendous support to the district in two of the most difficult years the district has faced,” he said.