As We Look Ahead …
As I have evaluated what to discuss in this Chairman’s Letter, I had a number of thoughts that I wanted to share with you. This won’t be a long and drawn out discussion regarding any one of the items, but rather some commentary and questions as I think about these items in relation to our Lakeshore Excellence Foundation’s (LEF) activity. They are all important to the LEF so they are addressed in no particular order:
Superintendent Phil Freeman
We are all aware of Phil’s decision to retire at the end of the school year. After many years in education, with his last stop as our Lakeshore Superintendent, Phil’s leaving will be a real loss for our community, our school system, and the LEF. As many of you may have experienced, Phil is very easy to talk with and is willing to discuss any appropriate subject. He has helped the LEF develop a rich understanding of the school system and how our financial support can be utilized most effectively. Phil has been very complimentary about the LEF’s fundraising capability in comparison to his previous foundation in a much larger community. We will miss the close working relationship and friendship that we have developed with Phil, but we will work to develop a similar relationship with the new Superintendent. How can LEF develop a similar, strong relationship with the new Superintendent?
I imagine that we are all struggling with the impact that this virus has had in one way or another: On our businesses, our school system and potentially our personal health. It is estimated that the initiation of the virtual learning option and the enhanced safety precautions for in-school learning will cost an additional $1.9 million for the Lakeshore Schools this 2020-2021 school year. It does not appear that this premium spending will go away soon and certainly the State of Michigan will not fund this long term. Does the LEF play a role in this funding?
Our nation has seen unprecedented outcries in 2020 and early 2021, asking that each individual be treated with respect and given equal opportunity. As the Lakeshore Excellence Foundation, we must work to develop an approach to ensure that our funding helps accomplish two items: 1) We must strive to reduce the achievement gap and 2) Address diversity/equity/inclusion as part of our major projects and grants that we fund. What definitive items can the LEF do in this area of diversity, equity and inclusion?
Funding Lakeshore’s Next Major Project(s)
With the STEM Implementation, Reading Matters and Community Auditorium renovation projects reaching the end of the LEF’s financial support, we are working with Phil Freeman to identify and assess a number of potential major projects that LEF could fund. We want to hit a “grand slam home run” with each of our major projects so that our donors, the staff, students and the community all feel excellent about that investment. What will be the next major project(s) funded by the LEF?
As you can see, there is no lack of need to help financially support our Lakeshore Public Schools. We are faced, however, with an economy that has barely started to recover from the impact of COVID-19. The impact has been different for all of us, but we have all been affected in some manner. I have always said that there is no better investment than the one you make in kids and education. Donating to LEF is a tax deductible contribution that accomplishes both. What impact will COVID-19 have on the LEF contributions in 2021?
As I mentioned in the beginning, I have a number of thoughts and questions running around in my mind. Now you know those thoughts, questions and have an idea of the work that the LEF Board is in the process of undertaking. As always, I would like to hear your comments and opinions.
J.C. Anderson, LEF Chairman