West Valley City • Ernie Broderick knows well the financial concerns facing public education. The fourth-year principal of Stansbury Elementary – a Title I school in West Valley City – has had to get creative with fundraising by seeking grants and encouraging community involvement.
At the heart of Broderick’s plan is the partnership the school formed four years ago with Kenworth Sales Company to host a car, truck and motorcycle show to raise money for some of the school’s ancillary programs. The event has grown every year since, and Broderick said events like “Rods, Hogs and Rigs” have made it possible to give his students more than the bare minimum.
“There’s a real animosity toward all the money we’re paying in taxes, and so we have to be very frugal,” he said. “If we want to do extra things, we have to go out and raise that money.”
The annual auto show raises funds for the school’s programs primarily through community sponsorships and entrance fees. This year more than 65 owners of cars, trucks and motorcycles paid $15 to showcase their wheels. All money raised will go toward funding the school’s Extended Learning Program, which is designed to give students who are behind some extra attention before and after school and eventually during the summer.
Katie Plewe, an administrative assistant at Kenworth Sales and the event’s primary organizer, said the program was this year’s focus because cuts have threatened its viability.
“The ELP program has been suffering because of budget cuts from the government,” she said. “They weren’t going to be able to have it next year, so that’s why we’re doing it for the ELP program.”
Four years ago, the first year of Broderick’s tenure and the auto show, the ELP program served just 50 students. This year it will have served more than 400. With the money raised from this year’s show, Broderick said he hopes to get every eligible student involved.
“We invite every kid to bridge the gap,” he said. “If they’re behind, they’re invited.”
Enrolling every one of the more than 600 eligible students may be a tall order for a school with 90 percent of its students at or below the poverty line. Plewe said it’s because the need is so great that Kenworth Sales wanted to get involved.
“A lot of these kids have two parents who are working, so it’s nice to have a place for them to go to get some help for homework and that kind of stuff after school,” she said.
For Broderick and his school, the charitable influx means his students can continue to enjoy not only academic help but also a safe, protected and productive environment.
“We work on a tight budget, and it’s the community itself that puts in all these extra things,” he said. “When you’re working on taxpayer dollars, you’re going to be always on less than what you want, so it’s people like this that make the difference.”