The legacy of Barberton Community Foundation
After looking over the list of grants and scholarships that Barberton City School District students have benefited from over the last year, one fact still amazes me. While we have received grants for new technology, to college and career readiness, and to third grade swimming lessons, perhaps none of the new school buildings our city is fortunate to have would be possible without the support of the Barberton Community Foundation.
For those of you new to Barberton, the school rebuilding process began in 1997. In 1996, the former Barberton Citizen’s Hospital was sold and the community members voted to form a community foundation from its proceeds. On February 2, 1997 the Barberton Community Foundation’s first grant was to fund the building of a new Barberton High School, which opened in 2000. As a result, the City received a new High School with no tax impact to Barberton citizens.
Each year, the Foundation has committed to grant the schools over $2.3 million to pay down the high school debt which will allow it to be paid off in 2022.
You may wonder what this has to do with the middle school and two elementary buildings. In 2008, Barberton voters passed a bond levy to fund the building and renovation of the other buildings. The cost of this $70 million levy would have been much greater if a new high school was needed as well. Also, the Foundation granted $8 million to purchase the land where Barberton Middle School is now located.
In addition to capital projects, a large number of Barberton students receive college scholarships each year from the Foundation. In 2014, $454,000 was budgeted for scholarships. Unfortunately, not all students fully use the funds they have been awarded and the dollars go unclaimed. Looking ahead, our goal is to continue encouraging students to preserver to earn a degree or certificate that can open doors to lucrative careers and future success.
I’m not sure if the community understands how much the initial building of the high school saved taxpayers and is still saving them today. As Jim Stonkus, the Foundation President & CEO, stated at last November’s Annual Recognition Dinner, “The leaders who worked so hard to form the Barberton Community Foundation and build the school were true visionaries.”
In conclusion, I think it’s fair to say that the Foundation has had a tremendous impact on the education of Barberton’s children - from the buildings to scholarships to all the “extras” that are made available to Barberton students that the district cannot afford. Please join me in supporting the Foundation both financially and in spirit. Thanks, Barberton Community Foundation!