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A strong foundation: Organization filling school funding gap

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Dale Nowlin’s math students at North High School received graphing calculators three years ago to use in their Algebra 2, precalculus and calculus classes.

The mathematics department chairman said the calculators have become vital companions to his students, allowing them to work through math problems more quickly and understand concepts and equations more deeply.

The calculators were bought with funds from the Bartholomew Consolidated School Foundation, which is charged with financing important educational initiatives that don’t fit the definition of what can be supported with tax dollars.

The graphing calculators, which can plot graphs and solve equations, were purchased for East, North and Columbus Signature Academy — New Tech high schools for about $90 apiece, specifically for students who could not afford their own.

Assisting in education

WHAT: Bartholomew Consolidated School Foundation


LOCATION: Bartholomew Consolidated School Corp. Administration Building, 1200 Central Ave.

STAFF: Ethan Crough, executive director

CONTACT: Call 378-4733 or send email to

WEBSITE: Click School Foundation tab at top.

TO DONATE: Call Crough at 378-4733; visit the website; or send check to Bartholomew Consolidated School Foundation, 1200 Central Ave., Columbus IN 47201.

You can help

A sit-down “Feed”uccine dinner consisting of pasta, bread, salad, dessert and a drink will be offered from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday at Tre Bicchieri, 425 Washington St.

All proceeds go to the Bartholomew Consolidated School Foundation. School corporation officials will serve the tables.

Tickets ($15) are available through:

  • Tre Bicchieri.
  • School district administration building, 1200 Central Ave.
  • Any foundation board member.
  • E-mailing or calling Ethan Crough at or 378-4733 and picking up your ticket the day of the event at the restaurant.

Or, people can just show up at the restaurant the day of the event.

Disclosure policies do not allow the school system to single out students who use those specific calculators, because that would identify them as financially needy. However, students in general said they would not feel nearly as confident in their educations if they did not have them.

Clay Johnson, a North junior, said he has been using his calculator to graph points and slopes. That allows him to visualize equations, making learning possible on a deeper level and speeding up the process in general.

“If it wasn’t for this, I’d have to write it out,” Johnson said.

Ethan Crough, the foundation’s executive director since July 2012, is trying to increase public awareness of the foundation and increase its revenue this year by 11 percent.

Last school year, donations and fundraisers brought in about $111,000. Crough hopes to get closer to his goal of $123,000 for this year with help from a fundraising dinner Sunday.

The foundation’s mission has three key components:

Provide help to students whose families struggle financially.

Promote innovation among teachers to enhance learning.

Expand students’ learning opportunities.

Among the programs the foundation supports are Book Buddies, which pairs adult volunteers with students in need of reading help, and the Literacy Festival, which promotes the joy of reading through activities, challenges and giveaways.

Crough identified an educational need at a recent Literacy Festival, where he learned some students could not find Hawaii on a map. As a result, the foundation will contribute funds to buy atlases for every fifth-grade class in the district at a total cost of about $7,000.

“Having more money will open up the possibilities,” he said. “When a teacher comes to us asking for an innovation grant, we want to be able to say ‘yes’ more often.”

Crough said an example of the foundation’s outreach into the community came last school year. That’s when a $5,000 grant enabled about 100 students from Columbus Signature Academy — New Tech to travel to Louisiana to rewire houses and restore coastlines.

The C4 Columbus Area Career Connection program also has benefited from the school foundation’s funding efforts.

Teresa Weichman, counselor for the program, said C4 received a grant of about $2,500 two years ago to buy six broadband units, which allow users to access the Internet from anywhere when Wi-Fi service is not available.

She said the units were especially needed at the time, because North was undergoing major renovations and Wi-Fi was not yet available in the building.

The foundation gave C4 another grant of about $2,500 last year for initial development of a program that will allow students to create their own virtual worlds on computers to help them in the education process.

“The foundation is vitally important,” Weichman said. “It’s an avenue we have available to us to do things that might be a little outside the box but make a big difference.”

Crough wants people to start thinking of August as the month of the local school foundation. To accomplish that, he plans to hold the fettuccine dinner and a pool party annually to drill the events into people’s minds.

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