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Letter: Foundation sponsors creative fundraiser

This letter is a response to “Column: Selling naming rights sends wrong message.”

To the Editor:

The Newton Public Schools has a new technology plan that supports Newton’s ambitious teaching and learning goals to prepare students for the 21st century global economy. Once implemented, this plan will create unprecedented opportunities for innovation and will transform the learning environments in our schools.

However, because of limited public dollars, the NPS budget cannot fund much of the considerable costs of the most appropriate teaching and learning tools. In fact, years of inadequate funding have created considerable inequities in technology among Newton’s 21 schools.

To best prepare students for a world in which online access is integral and essential, the NPS needed to get creative. That’s why school leaders turned to the Newton Schools Foundation for assistance. The NSF is a non-profit organization whose sole mission is to support public education in Newton.

The NPS technology plan includes an expansion of online access throughout all of Newton’s schools through infrastructure improvements, enhancement of online resources available to students and teachers, professional development and access to internet-enabled devices for all students and teachers anytime anywhere.

This will allow teachers real-time evaluation of student progress; opportunities for teachers and students to collaborate with their peers within and outside the school building; continual sharing of best practices for teachers throughout the Newton Schools and beyond; and opportunities for creativity and innovation at every level of the Newton Public Schools.

The revolution in teaching and learning will transcend the technology itself. Technology can change, but the new access and opportunities will remain.

To raise the necessary funds for this plan, the NSF is launching a comprehensive fundraising campaign. One component of this campaign is the sale of naming rights to high school-related spaces, which is currently awaiting Board of Aldermen approval. This type of fundraising has become more and more common for public school systems throughout the U.S. and Massachusetts as public funds become increasingly limited.

The NSF is approaching potential donors—businesses, alumni, alumni groups and individuals—who have ties to Newton, and will encourage them to name spaces in an appropriate way, including in honor or memory of an esteemed faculty or school community member. Already the Newton Public Library and Newton athletic fields have used naming as an important fundraising tool.

The fundraising campaign is a win-win situation. Businesses have the opportunity to support the community that supports them. Alumni can give back to the schools that set them on a path to success—the way they do colleges and universities.  Individuals can create a positive legacy through support of an innovative learning environment for our future leaders.

Here are some more facts about the campaign:

  • School names are NOT for sale. Newton North High School will remain Newton North High School and Newton South High School will remain Newton South High School.
  • Previously named spaces will be honored.
  • The NFS is approaching only businesses, individuals and alumni groups with Newton ties. The School Committee has final approval of any and all donations and may refuse any donation or naming proposal that does not meet Newton’s standards and values.
  • A portion of money raised through the campaign will be used to create a sustainable fund that will generate a revenue stream for Newton’s schools year after year. This will be unprecedented in Newton.

In the best of all possible worlds, technology, software, infrastructure and teacher training would be fully paid with public funds. In today’s reality, that would mean a trade-off: technology for teachers. That’s a trade-off Newton is unwilling to make.

The School Committee and Board of Alderman have promised to work together on a permanent and sustainable solution to meet Newton’s education funding needs. In the meantime, the technology gap will only grow, and students will lose out if we do not turn to creative solutions now.

A first-rate school system is the cornerstone of a vibrant community. The funds raised in this community-wide public-private partnership will ultimately benefit our entire city. We look forward to working with the community to ensure that our schools are a shining example of educational excellence.

For more details on the naming rights campaign, click here.

–Liz Richardson, Julie Sall and Norm Shore

Co-presidents, Newton Schools Foundation

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