Columbia School District Foundation revived

A fourth grade STEM kit, digital scorer’s table, keynote speakers — these and many other educational needs inspired the recent revival of the Columbia School District Foundation.

“We are beginning a new chapter for the foundation, and we look forward to enabling our students to reach for the stars and achieve their dreams with help from the community,” foundation treasurer Cindy Straub said.

The foundation began in 1994 as a nonprofit organization used to fund the district’s needs not covered in the academic budget. Since inception, the group has raised nearly $50,000 for the district.

That covers needs ranging from classroom and instructional materials to enhancing athletic programs. But while many needs exist in the district, none take precedence over others.

“Since this is a new chapter for the foundation, all projects are important and are still in the beginning stages of funding,” Straub said. “I think all of the projects still have a ways to go. We encourage everyone to check out our website to see if there is a project that they may be interested in helping with.”

Straub works with two other board of directors — including Andrea Khoury, the foundation’s president, and vice president Nancy Long — as well as community representatives.

Columbia school superintendent Dr. Gina Segobiano serves as administrative liaison to the foundation alongside teacher liaison Michelle Spivey. Columbia School Board President Scott Middelkamp is the board’s representative on the foundation.

“We all have the common goal of wanting to provide opportunities for the students they would not otherwise have,” Straub said.

According to Straub, Segobiano spearheaded the effort to revive the foundation and create a foundation website. The website domain is For more information on the foundation, visit the website or contact the Columbia school district office at 281-4772.

One feature of the website allows community members to view specific needs for the school district. Some of the projects listed on the website will not take much to fully fund, such as the fourth grade STEM kit that teaches next generation science, technology, engineering and math principles. That need comes out to only $750.

Projects such as handicapped accessible bleachers for the high school’s multi-purpose field will require longer term fundraising and resourcefulness. On the foundation’s website, the fundraising goal for the bleachers comes out to $300,000.

“Providing handicapped accessible bleachers at the multi-purpose field has been on the district’s facility needs list for quite some time,” Segobiano said. “The existing bleachers are not code compliant and do not provide enough seating for our spectators.”

Segobiano said the district would consider a balanced funding approach — which would look at avenues such as local funding, donations and grants in addition to the funds raised through the foundation. The district can also consider using facility sales tax revenue to help fund the bleachers.

At the moment, a timeline does not exist for the project. Straub added the foundation could potentially partner with other school-related fundraising groups to fund larger needs similar to the bleachers. The community also gives general donations not earmarked for specific needs that the foundation can use to support larger needs.

Regardless of how needs are met, Straub said community members should feel encouraged that their donation or fundraising efforts make a difference.

“Every contribution counts toward funding our projects and impacting the lives of our students,” Straub said.

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