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Director pleased with support in foundations most challenging year

It has been a harried year for Lake Oswego schools, but the local school foundation still managed a successful annual campaign with $1.65 million to donate for teacher’s salaries in the 2012-13 school year.

“This was probably our most challenging year that we’ve experienced,” said Mary Puskas, Lake Oswego School District Foundation director.

With Palisades Elementary School closed a year ago and Uplands Elementary to close this year and Bryant Elementary being repurposed, “we really had three elementary family groups that begin to feel a little more disconnected because of the changes,” Puskas said. “Needless to say, when parents are uncertain about the changes taking place in their schools they hesitate to give to the foundation.”

Giving participation rates for the Uplands and Bryant communities dipped lower than the rest of the district this year. Uplands was at 46 percent participation, while Bryant was at 37 percent. Participation in the rest of the school communities varied from 50 to 70 percent.

“It was a difficult and contentious year for the district. To have received as much support as we have makes us feel very positive about our base of support,” Puskas said.

In addition to the annual luncheon and the phone-a-thon, the foundation had a strong marketing campaign sponsored by Bank of Oswego and Saint Honoré Boulangerie and boosted by substantial in-kind matches from the Lake Oswego Review and reduced rates from advertising and marketing firm Fish Marketing that helped to get word out about the need for donors.

There was also a billboard appeal located near the intersection of Interstate 5 and Highway 217 visible as drivers leave Lake Oswego and head into Tigard. The billboard was made possible thanks to a generous anonymous donation from a Lake Oswego parent who is an executive with Lamar Advertising.

The foundation’s original goal was $2.3 million.

“We knew we were really stretching ourselves with that goal ... but we reach for the stars,” Puskas said.

Last year, the foundation had a record-breaking year with $2.2 million raised, while the previous year raised only $1.4 million.

One of the foundation’s biggest donors this year is the endowment fund, which has been gaining momentum in recent years. The foundation raised about $75,000 for the endowment this year.

The endowment, which sits at more than $500,000, will donate about $20,000 to the annual campaign this year. The endowment has more than $1.4 million more in bequests.

On July 23, the Lake Oswego Chamber of Commerce will host a golf tournament that will benefit the endowment. The entry fee to participate in the tournament is $200. For more information or to register, call the chamber at 503-636-3634.

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