Good News! Outdoor Lab to Stay Open!

I was thrilled to receive a newsletter from Jeffco schools informing me that Outdoor Lab is going to stay open!  Here’s the letter:

Next year’s Jeffco sixth-graders and their parents have something to cheer about when the new school year rolls around—the Mt. Evans and Windy Peak Outdoor Lab Schools will keep the doors open for outdoor student adventures in 2011-12. More than $625,000 has been raised to keep the historic schools operating for another year.

“The donations, large and small, show how much our community cares about keeping this experience alive for Jeffco students,” said Kathy Weiss, president of the Outdoor Lab Foundation. “An anonymous donor has contributed $99,500 and we’ve had students, schools, PTAs, businesses and community members raise hundreds of dollars as well. It’s been an incredible outpouring of support for this program.”

The Community First Foundation has added $25,000 to the Outdoor Lab fund saying they are proud to be a part of the community effort to save the schools.

The Outdoor Lab program, which has been providing environmental education for more than 50 years, was suspended for the 2011-12 school year as a result of district budget reductions.  However, the community had a deadline of June 15 to raise $600,000 to keep the schools open for the coming year.

Approximately half of the $625,000 raised came from fundraising efforts; the remaining money is in the form of matching funds from the district.  As a result of conservative spending on the part of district departments during the 2010-11 budget year, Jeffco had $1.2 million in surplus funds.  Members of the Board of Education directed that $450,000 of that money be put toward the Outdoor Lab schools in matching funds.

Outdoor Lab fees for the 2011-12 school year will increase from $199 per student to $300; that additional money will help support the program.  The Outdoor Lab Foundation and the district are now tasked with making the schools self-sustaining for future sixth-graders.  To find out how you can support fundraising efforts, visit the Outdoor Lab Foundation website at www.outdoorlabfoundation.org or contact The Jefferson Foundation at www.jeffersonfoundation.org/

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