The Hot Springs Public Schools Education Foundation recently offered 20 Enrichment Grants, totaling $8,350, to Hot Springs School District staff members to help fund specific classroom needs for the upcoming school year.
The foundation, a 501(c)(3) corporation established in 2017 by Chairman Q. Byrum Hurst, was created to “empower and support public school students and initiatives in the heart of Hot Springs,” according to its statement. of mission.
His latest offering marks the third round of foundation enrichment grants to be handed out.
Hurst, a longtime local lawyer, said on Tuesday that the idea for the foundation originally came from now-retired former HSSD superintendent Joyce Craft, who was the district’s first woman, as well as the first African-American woman to serve as superintendent. She now sits on the National Park College Board of Trustees and the Foundation Board of Trustees.
“(It was) really Joyce Craft’s idea, who felt like the school, especially the Hot Springs School District, needed funds that weren’t necessarily budgeted because the budget would be constrained by the taxable income that came in,” he said. said. “And so there were things that teachers and administrators needed that weren’t in the budget.”
He said Craft approached him a few years ago to start a foundation.
“I didn’t know much about a foundation myself,” he said. “So we had to do some research, and our research revealed that there were educational foundations all over the state, but Hot Springs didn’t have any. Now we’ve spent a lot of time trying to get organized. , making sure that we had some kind of infrastructure in place before asking people to donate money but for the past two years we have been very aggressively soliciting funds and trying to use those funds to benefit the system Hot Springs Public School.
Video not playing? Click here https://www.youtube.com/embed/9PEGD2j9zig
The scholarships are distributed through an application process in which the staff member explains the reason for the need and the number of students involved. Examples include a science teacher who needs more microscopes, a physical education teacher who needs yoga mats, or even a teacher who needs more chairs for a classroom.
Hurst noted that it has been very successful so far and it is very rewarding to be able to help students by improving their classroom environment.
“You know, the reason this becomes important is because when businesses start moving into communities and they look to a community to start a business, one of the first things they ask, it’s the schools and the hospitals. They want to know what kind of education and what kind of medical care is available. And so you want your school districts to be able to provide the best that they can,” he said. -he declares.
Garland County is blessed with seven very good school districts in a relatively small geographic area, he said, but it’s downtown education that weighs most heavily on his mind.
“The Hot Springs School District is right in the heart of the community,” he said. “And so we think that’s really important, and it’s going to be important not just for people when they move into a community, but also when businesses are looking at where to move. If they have an active, vibrant, and able to provide education… Hot Springs High School says ‘World Class High School’ – and it is.”
Hurst said the foundation is not just for Hot Springs alumni who may have gone through the public school system, but also one that benefits the entire Hot Springs community and, in particular. , to the business world. He noted that he hopes to expand their business contributions and, in return, show the Greater Hot Springs Chamber of Commerce and others who support the local economy that not only does the district have a well-funded and budgeted school system, but also benefits from the support of a foundation.
While he hopes the future will give the foundation better contributions and ultimately more money to be able to make grants, his larger goal is to be able to offer what he calls the “pledge of Trojan Horse,” which would provide full college scholarships in the state. to students graduating from Kindergarten through Grade 12 in the Hot Springs School District and graduating.
“Going forward, I hope that’s where we can go and we can get to… I hope we can do bigger and better grants,” he said.
“The foundation can only work with the cooperation of the Hot Springs school board and school district administrators and faculty, all of which impact the students. But I can say this: Hot Springs school board members Springs have been extremely cooperative and supportive in all areas,” Hurst said.
“And I would just say without that, an educational foundation cannot be successful. And we will be successful and we will be even more successful in the future. I look forward to a bigger year than ever.”