Aspen Board of Education to vote on new donor-recognition policy |

Aspen Board of Education to vote on new donor-recognition policy

Following about six months of deliberation, the Aspen Board of Education is on track to change its donor-recognition policy to permit the school district to recognize donors of significant financial gifts.

During a brief discussion of its donor-recognition policy at a board meeting Monday, all five board members seemed to agree unanimously on a new proposed policy, though no formal decision was made.

It was the board’s first step in implementing a policy that could allow the school district to acknowledge donors on buildings within the Aspen School District campus — an idea that sparked local and national attention earlier this year when it was first proposed. The Aspen Education Foundation, a nonprofit fundraising arm of the Aspen School District, suggested that the board discuss the idea of recognizing donors during a board meeting March 21.

“Recognizing donors is essential in the fundraiser process,” Aspen Education Foundation Executive Director Brooke Bedingfield said in April. “Naming is one way to do that, and there are many possibilities in terms of naming opportunities.”

Buildings aside, other opportunities to recognize donors include programs, endowment funds, scholarships and outdoor and indoor spaces, Bedingfield said.

The board will vote on the proposed policy during its next meeting Oct. 3, said board President Susan Marolt.

School board Vice President Sandra Peirce and Secretary Sheila Wills crafted the proposed policy, which the remaining board members — Marolt, Treasurer Margeaux Johansson and Assistant Secretary Dwayne Romero — reviewed and discussed at a board meeting Sept. 6.

Both Peirce and Wills were out of town at the time of that meeting.

The proposed donor-recognition policy that the board will vote on in October begins with a preamble that reads: “The Aspen School District is a public school district primarily supported by local and state tax dollars. To enable the district to fully achieve its mission statement, however, the district also depends on the annual charitable contributions raised by the Aspen Education Foundation.

“At the foundation’s request, the board has developed the following policy in an effort to assist the foundation in its vital work. The board’s guiding principle in developing this policy is the incontrovertible premise that each and every student in the district feels valued and equal, and nothing contained in this policy or any interpretation thereof may be in contravention of this guiding principle.”

The new proposed policy outlines four specific rules for recognizing donors:

1. The Board of Education would approve the addition of one donor-recognition wall in a design and location to be later determined by the board working in conjunction with the Aspen Education Foundation and such other members of the community as the board may choose.

2. Donors would be recognized only after having met a strict set of criteria and standards, which would initially be proposed by the Aspen Education Foundation and reviewed and approved by the Board of Education.

3. Any donor who has been previously recognized and subsequently fails to meet either the criteria or standards would be subject to removal.

4. Any other visible donor recognition would only be permitted on district property with the prior consent of and appropriate policy amendment by the Board of Education.

The board’s current donor-recognition policy, which was adopted Oct. 7, 2013, states that the superintendent shall not recognize donors or contributors, whether individuals or businesses, via any tangible, permanent method.

The next Aspen Board of Education meeting is scheduled for 8 a.m. Oct. 3 in the district boardroom.

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