GLENDALE : School Gets Smart About Raising Funds

Forget PTA bake sales.

A parents committee at Mark Keppel Elementary School in Glendale has taken school fund-raising to the corporate level.

The group, called Make Keppel Special, acts as a foundation for the school and accepts grant applications for educational projects from teachers and administrators.

The group's latest endeavor is an elaborate playground on campus, complete with a rubber mat floor to prevent accidents.

Brian Ellis, chairman of Make Keppel Special and parent of two Keppel kids, helped pull in $40,000 for the construction of the playground, which officially opened Wednesday.

"Brian made a dream come true," said Cynthia Livingston, an administrative intern at Keppel.

Livingston described Ellis as an aggressive, effective fund-raiser who has made possible the remodeling and expansion of the school library and the creation of an Apple Macintosh computer lab.

"Our committee has been submitted 20 grant applications so far, but we've only turned down two," Ellis said, explaining that those grants were rejected because the Glendale Unified School District did not approve them.

The committee's next project will be building a science bungalow where a full-time teacher will conduct classes and labs for all grade levels.

Ellis estimated that the science bungalow could cost up to $60,000, and he has already started thinking of how to cut the price.

If the school rents a bungalow instead, the project might only cost $20,000.

"The most important thing we need is for parents and community members to work together to make schools more successful," said Sheila Beauchamp, president of the Glendale Board of Education.

In the district she represents, Beauchamp said, 10 schools have developed a foundation committee, like the one at Keppel.

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