Aspen School District board of education seeks community feedback on naming rights
The Aspen Times
The Aspen School Board Board of Education plans to send a survey out to the community sometime in the next few weeks to gauge the public’s interest in naming rights for Aspen public schools.
“We have not made any decisions or even begun to make any decisions until we get feedback from the community,” school board President Susan Marolt said. “Our district is a community asset, so we feel that the community must weigh in.”
Plans for communal outreach on naming rights comes following a fundraising idea that the Aspen Education Foundation — a nonprofit fundraising arm of the Aspen School District — proposed during a March 21 Board of Education meeting.
“Recognizing donors is essential in the fundraiser process,” said Aspen Education Foundation Executive Director Brooke Bedingfield. “Naming is one way to do that, and there are many possibilities in terms of naming opportunities.”
Aside from naming campuses and buildings — a notion that has sparked local and statewide attention — other naming opportunities include programs, endowment funds, scholarships and outdoor and indoor spaces, Bedingfield said.
The Board of Education’s current naming policy, which was implemented by a former board member a few years ago, states that it shall not put any name on a tangible item in the Aspen School District, Marolt said.
The discussion of funding comes in the wake of a statewide education-budget crisis, as Colorado public schools receive significantly less state funding than the majority of public schools across the country.
The Aspen Education Foundation was started in 1991 by concerned Aspen parents looking to alleviate the effects of the state’s dwindling education budget.
In recent years, the foundation has raised between $400,000 and $700,000 for the Aspen School District annually.
“The programs that we support set our schools apart,” Bedingfield said.
Some of these programs include the school district’s International Baccalaureate Program, college counseling and aeronautics programs and its academic support group.
“Our children walk down these hallways, and they sit in these classrooms, as well,” Bedingfield said. “We’re not looking to do anything that would harm or provide embarrassment to our students, the Aspen School District or the community.”
“We’re all parents and Aspen residents, and we care about our outcomes and the community,” she said, adding that all 20 of the foundation’s board members have children in the Aspen School District.
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The Roaring Fork School District began its transition of bringing students back to school for in-person learning on Monday, starting with K-3. If all goes well, grades 5-8 will start Oct. 26 and high school students on Nov. 2.