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Posted at 1:33 PM ET, 06/15/2010

New foundation for Fairfax schools

By Washington Post editors

Cash strapped and seeking new sources of revenue, Fairfax's public school system is again reaching out to the private sector.

The Fairfax County Chamber of Commerce unveiled plans Tuesday for a new nonprofit foundation that would allow for profit companies to donate money to the county's public schools. Stuart Mendelsohn, the chamber's outgoing chairman and a partner with the law firm Holland & Knight, LLP, said during the group's annual luncheon at the Westfields Marriott Washington Dulles in Chantilly that a "more formal announcement" would come later this summer.

Robby Demeria, the Fairfax chamber's legislative affairs director, said schools Superintendent Jack D. Dale approached officials there a few months ago to come up with a new funding option for companies in the region, such as Verizon and Northrop Grumman.

The new nonprofit raises questions about the future of the county's chief education nonprofit, the Fairfax Education Foundation, which was formed in Falls Church in 1983 by a group of area business leaders. Since its creation, it has raised and contributed nearly $21 million in cash and high-tech equipment for more than 30 county school projects. But donations to the organization have fallen sharply since 2004, when donors gave nearly $600,000. Nearly half of its gifts in 2009 came from members of the group's 32-person board of trustees and just $153,603 ended up going to Fairfax County Public Schools.

Meanwhile, Fairfax's public schools approved a $2.2 billion budget last month that cuts 200 positions, introduces new fees for sports and Advanced Placement tests, and gets rid of programs that have supported some of the county's most needy schools. Next year's budget is about $35 million less than last year's.

-- Derek Kravitz

By Washington Post editors  | June 15, 2010; 1:33 PM ET
Categories:  Virginia  | Tags:  Fairfax County, fairfax county chamber of commerce, foundation  
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