On Monday, Oct. 19, about 150 community members and restaurateurs filled the Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake High School’s cafeteria for their annual Taste of Ballston event, which is a fundraising event for the Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake Education Foundation.
Ten years ago I was retiring from the BH-BL school board, and when you sit on the school board you watch interesting things fall off the bottom of the budget, said BH-BL Education Foundation president Dorie McArthur, an organizer of the event. `First you have to fix the roof and pay the staff, who are the heart and soul of the district.`
McArthur said meeting the budget essentials meant there were some projects the school was unable to fund.
When McArthur retired, she and several other community members developed a not-for-profit organization to `fund some of those things that will make education exciting for students and also teachers.`
Projects don’t have to be big or elaborate to get funded. They typically range from a few hundred dollars to $1,000.
Nine years ago, the BH-BL Education Foundation started the Tast of Ballston event to be a major fundraiser for the foundation.
`It funds thousands of dollars [of grants],` said McArthur. `Last night I went to the Burnt Hills post office to pick up the last of the ticket orders, and in one of the mailboxes was the first grant request.`
Ten area restaurants participated in the event, including the Woodlin Club of Glenville; The Factory, which is in the village of Ballston Spa; the Millstone Lodge of Glenville; Sam’s Chinese Restaurant of Burnt Hills; Peking Wok of Burnt Hills; Marcella’s of Glenville; Good Times Lakeview Restaurant of Ballston Lake; Carney’s of Ballston Lake; BH-BL Food Service, which serves thousands of meals every day to the BH-BL school community, and Augie’s on Route 50 between Burnt Hills and Ballston Spa. Restaurant owners not only donated the food for the event, but also their time, serving up samples of their food to attendees.
`I think that certainly the sponsoring restaurants from the area were a great highlight ` to have the samples of food from all the different restaurants,` said Chris Nyhan, also a member of the BH-BL Foundation and the president of the Burnt Hills Ballston Spa Business and Professionals Association. `By the time you sample all the foods from all the different places you’ve had, it’s a pretty good dinner. It’s your own little mini 10-course meal.`
Music was provided by the BH-BL High School Strings, featuring Karen Russell and her students. The Burnt Hills Community Melody Makers picked up the musical baton with big band tunes, including renditions by two vocalists.
McArthur said that there are two grant cycles a year so that teachers can receive funding in the winter and at the beginning of the school year, depending on when they apply. The grant cycle works this way because of the way the school district’s budget works. Right now teachers and other staffers are putting in their requests for next fall. McArthur said that many of the departments in the district have very little discretionary funding right now, and that’s where their grant program comes into play.
The board will also give grants to individual students on occasion.
`There was a boy in the high school working on an Eagle badge who wanted to work on, and maintain, trails behind the Stevens Elementary School. He needed a few hundred dollars for materials to improve these trails and make them usable for teachers and students for instruction,` said McArthur. `In that case, we were able to grant a young person’s application.`
McArthur ultimately described the fund as a `continuation of the way things happen at the college level.`
`They commonly have foundations for college level students but they haven’t done it at this level,` said McArthur.
The idea came from a program that was started in California about 20 years ago when there was a proposition that was passed that cut funding to schools.
`It started in California 15-20 years ago when they had a proposition that cut finding to schools.As a result people started doing these foundations for pubic schools and we heard about it a school board convention,` said McArthur.
In the past nine years, the BH-BL Board has funded about $90,000 worth of projects.“