You may have seen pictures from the Lake Travis Education Foundation’s Bowties and Butterflies Gala flooding your Facebook page a few weeks ago, but make no mistake, this event reaches far beyond the playfully coined “Mom Prom” moniker. Those smiling faces in the photos are making a big difference in our children’s education.
This year, the Lake Travis Education Foundation gala raised more than $165,000 with the live auction bringing in $90,000, the silent auction bringing in about $43,000 and straight donations that night alone in the amount of $32,000.
So how does this money help? In more ways than you think. “If your child attends an Lake Travis ISD school, they are touched by a gift that was made possible by the gala,” says LTEF Executive Director Suzanne Stone. “The dollars we raise at the event — and all year long — go right back into the schools.”
When the school year began, the Lake Travis Independent School District was facing a $3.9 million deficit. The state moved $28 million out of the district last year, making the foundation’s job of supporting and elevating Lake Travis ISD as critical as it has ever been. The district has obviously put budget reductions in place to significantly lower the deficit, but funds raised by LTEF help to ease the burden.
Despite the challenges, LTEF stays focused on the job at hand. “It’s up to us to ask teachers, ‘What do you need?’ and provide it for them,” says Suzanne.
Donations raised by LTEF are actually divided on a per child basis (based on enrollment) to maximize the positive reach and enhance education for all students in the district. The LTEF estimates how much they intend to raise during the school year and they share those figure with each campus. The staff is able to submit grants to campus leadership to ensure that the money goes towards programs everyone is excited about and programs that make an impact.
A great example would be the CNC Plasma Cutter for the Agriculture & Metal Shop at Lake Travis High School. (Why yes, LTHS does have an Agriculture & Metal Shop!) This cutting-edge equipment that is being used by high school students allows them to learn things like how to cut sheet metal using vector artwork and build pens for animals. They are learning high-end fabrication skills in high school that they probably wouldn’t otherwise see until their college years.
Another cool example of how funding is used is the EV3 Robotics Program that has been implemented at all of the Lake Travis elementary school campuses. In this instance, elementary students are building and operating robots by learning basic programming skills. And it’s not all about technology, it’s about fine arts too. Donations from LTEF helped purchase instruments at Hudson Bend Middle School that can be loaned to children who do not have the economic means to buy them. The projects and programs purchased by LTEF dollars run the gamut from iPads and Chromebooks to tools and supplies.
Suzanne is thrilled by the support of LTEF and is looking forward to a bright future for the community. “The foundation is growing with the community and working together as a resource to make sure we continue our level of excellence in the district.” In addition to working with lawmakers to positively impact the deficit situation and ease the budget cuts, LTEF is proactively looking down the road.
Growth in Lake Travis is imminent, so instead of dreading it and complaining about it, organizations like LTEF are looking for solutions. There are about 8,900 students in Lake Travis ISD today and the projected number of students by 2025 is more than 14,000. “It’s not just about finding desk space for these children,” adds Suzanne. “We need to make sure the teachers and campuses have the tools, resources and support they need to thrive.”
Photo courtesy of the Lake Travis Education Foundation Facebook page.