What is the Scarsdale Schools Education Foundation?

The Foundation is a not-for-profit organization incorporated in 2012 for the purpose of supporting our schools and educational excellence in our community. The Foundation raises funds to support innovative programs and facilities that are not funded through the District’s own budget.

Why was SSEF Founded?

The SSEF began as a Board of Education initiative. Following the recommendation of a multi-constituency Revenue Committee that was appointed in 2010, the Board of Education established a Steering Committee in June 2011 to consider the feasibility of launching an educational foundation. The Steering Committee’s report to the Board in December 2011 recommended the creation of a foundation to support “projects and activities deemed ‘endangered’ as a result of current economic conditions and/or would be valuable educational innovations that could not otherwise be supported through the regular budget process.” The Foundation was incorporated in May 2012.

What is the purpose of the Foundation?

The purpose of the Foundation is to provide financial support for innovative programs and facilities above and beyond the District’s own budget. The three specific interest areas that the Foundation has identified are: 1) research & development/innovation, 2) technology, and 3) physical infrastructure.

What is the relationship of the Foundation and the Board of Education?

The Foundation is committed to a close working relationship with the Board of Education and District leadership to identify potential programs, services and/or facilities worthy of funding. The Board of Education has appointed a representative who serves as liaison to the Foundation and attends board meetings. Potential projects are developed collaboratively and all projects that the SSEF decides to fund must be approved by the Board of Education at a public meeting before they are accepted by the District.

Will the Foundation have an impact on the willingness of voters in the community to support school budgets and bond issues?

The fact is that even with a very strong fundraising effort, the potential funds available from the SSEF will be small in comparison to the total budget of the District, that proves the essential operating funds for the school system.  Foundation funding will play an important role in supplementing and supporting new initiatives in a flexible and time sensitive manner.

What is the relationship of the Foundation to other groups supporting our schools?

The Foundation will not seek to revise funds for projects which other fundraising groups support (such as the PTA’s).  THe Foundation’s focus will be on District-wide initiatives that benefit students throughout Scarsdale.  The SSEF is not related the the Scarsdale Foundation, another community organization.

Who has contributed to the Foundation at this early stage and are you interested in wider community participation?

All of the members of the board of directors and a growing number of other community residents have contributed to the Foundation. The SSEF is very interested in input from the community and welcomes wider participation, through financial contributions and by offering ideas and suggestions to help shape priorities and consider innovative projects to fund. Please contact Beth Zadek Steckel at zadeksteckel@gmail.com if you are interested in getting involved.

Do other public schools have foundations?

Yes, quite a few communities in the area have education foundations and there are hundreds across the country. Edgemont, Chappaqua, and Bronxville established school foundations more than 20 years ago. In Westchester, foundations also support the school systems in Bedford, Dobbs Ferry, Harrison, Irvington, Katonah, Pelham, and Rye, among others.

Would it make a difference if the SSEF did not exist?

This is perhaps the most fundamental and important question of all. Scarsdale is very proud of the reputation of its school system and our schools are the reason many of us have chosen to live here. The excellence of the school system also helps maintain property values in Scarsdale. But Scarsdale schools are public schools, the size of the District’s annual budget is limited, state aid to the District is small by statute, and separate state regulation limits property tax increases.

Our teachers, administrators, and Board of Education do a terrific job within the constraints of the budget. At the same time, they have innovative and exciting ideas to improve the educational experience of our students. What they need is a place to go for financial support outside of the District’s budget to help them implement those ideas and realize their vision — and this is where the Foundation can play an important role.

As a community, we set very high standards for our schools, but we may not be able to achieve these goals through public funding alone. To provide our students with the best possible educational experience, the Foundation seeks to support them by funding state-of-the art technology, a creative curriculum, quality teaching techniques, and an environment that allows students to benefit from innovative educational theories and practices.