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New nonprofit to benefit Newton Co. schools

COVINGTON — A new nonprofit organization has been formed to benefit Newton County public schools.

The Newton Education Foundation is preparing to launch its fundraising campaign, called ReImagine Newton, this fall. The foundation's mission is to create a private fund to support public education.

Foundation board members will be soliciting the community for donations and are making plans for upcoming events and fundraisers. The organization will also be seeking grants to further its cause.

The foundation will support the school system in a variety of ways, according to Chairman Robert Stansfield.

"We're endeavoring to collect money to support programs within the school system. That could include providing scholarships or learning opportunities for specific teachers to learn new programs, new techniques, new technologies and implement them in their classrooms and share them with other teachers," Stansfield said. "We're also looking to provide grants for classrooms if a teacher has an initiative they want to start, a new way of doing something. We hope to support other elements that are habitually underfunded, such as music or arts."

The campaign will run throughout the school year, and Stansfield said he would like to raise about $100,000. In 2009, the state average for dollars spent per student in school systems was $8,908. Newton County fell more than $400 below that average, at $8,502. With the budget crisis and the school board already adopting the maximum millage rate, Stansfield said that number is not likely to improve.

"Public education is a duty of the state, a duty of the community and a right of the citizens. We need to support it. It's the right thing to do," he said. "The school system is behind us 100 percent. They would love to have the support of a vibrant education foundation. Many communities have an education foundation to support the mission of public schools, so we were kind of late coming to this."

Members of the foundation will be on the Square from 3 to 6 p.m. Sunday for the Back 2 School Downtown Covington Block Party to provide more information about their organization. Additional information can be obtained by visiting www.reimaginenewton.org or by calling Stansfield at 770-786-4390.