A foundation has been formed to assist the Tamaqua Area School District in realizing its educational goals.
The new Tamaqua Blue Raider Foundation was announced Tuesday evening at the regular monthly meeting of the district's board of education.
Robert A. Miller III, president of the foundation's board of directors, explained its purpose. Miller served as the president of the former John E. Morgan Knitting Mills, Hometown.
Miller said the Blue Raider Foundation will operate as a 501(c) 3 corporation to support, promote, sponsor and carry out educational, scientific or charitable activities and objectives within or related to the school district.
The mission statement for the foundation, which Miller read to the school board, is as follows:
"The Tamaqua Blue Raider Foundation is privately established to assist the Tamaqua Area School District in funding projects that are outside of the school district's budget. Acting autonomously, the foundation will enlist individuals, corporations and foundations, in charitable resource raising activities to assist our students achieve their maximum potential."
Miller said that all corporate filings regarding the foundation have been submitted, which for the most part umbrella under Form 1023 of the Internal Revenue Service. Its entity number has been assigned by the commonwealth, and all related filing fees are paid.
The foundation's board will operate with five members. In addition to Miller, Walter E. Kruczek will serve as vice president; attorney Jeffrey P. Bowe, who is also the district's solicitor, will be secretary; Michael W. Fegley will be treasurer; and James R. Zigmant will be member at large. The board will meet once a month.
Miller said communications to the foundation are to be addressed to the Tamaqua Blue Raider Foundation, 109 West Broad Street, Tamaqua.
"In the near future, we will be extending an invitation for a member of the school board and administration to attend meetings to determine objectives for the future," Miller added.
A social gathering is also being planned for the community to learn more about the foundation.
School board President Larry A. Wittig lauded the launching of the support organization.
"I know how much time you put in, probably more than we will as a school board," said Wittig. "I know how much it took to get this off the ground."
Wittig said that not every foundation operates autonomously from the school districts they support, but the Raider Foundation has chosen to do so.
"This gives the community an opportunity to give tax-deductible contributions to a certain project," noted Wittig, who added that the foundation will provide for projects not covered by the district's budget, which is swallowed up by the need for items like paper and pencils.
Tracy A. Perry, a West Penn Township resident who has been a candidate for school board, said under public comment that she supports the formation of an educational foundation for Tamaqua Area but mentioned she had expressed interesting in becoming involved with such an endeavor and asked to be kept abreast of any developments.
"Now we have one, and no one told me about it," said Perry. "Why was this not extended to community members?"
"The torch was passed to me, and Larry left it up to me," explained Miller. "I took a very businesslike attitude toward it. I wanted a small operating board, and that's the tact I took."
Miller said pains were taken for the foundation to operate independently of the school board so that there would be no conflicts of interest with any board members.
"I looked at it as someone who has been in the business community for many years, and I decided on the people I would like to have on it," added Miller.
Perry said she had "a million ideas" for such a foundation.
"I'm very disgusted by your lack of communication." she told the school board.
"We were approached by Mr. Miller for information we had from our own research," said Superintendent Carol Makuta. "It was beyond the scope of the district. At that point, our involvement was finished."
"We all directed our expertise to get it going," said Fegley. "It's a very narrow group. We worked on this for six-eight months. It's a very large undertaking. If things go right, we will be able to generate funds to help our students."
Fegley said he sees the foundation focusing on bolstering the district's educational efforts, much like booster clubs do with Tamaqua Area's athletic teams.
"However, it's important that there's a big separation between the foundation and the schools," Fegley added.