Aviator Fund Question and Answer
Q1: I already give to (program, PTO, Garden, etc.) at Lowry Elementary. Are you asking for an additional gift?
A1: We appreciate all of the financial and volunteer support you provide to Lowry Elementary. We have streamlined giving opportunities to make it easier for you to plan and budget. The Aviator Fund is the main fund that helps Lowry maintain lower student/teacher ratios and enhance its academic offerings in areas to best serve the needs of its entire student body. The PTO focuses on raising money for several different areas of need: after school enrichment opportunities; Missoula Children’s Theatre; books for both the library and the classrooms, as well as other classroom supplies; equipment, supplies, software and musical instruments for the Specials; and social events such as the Back To School Picnic, Spring Carnival, etc. In addition, there are opportunities to support Lowry’s Serenity and Victory Gardens, such as buying a stepping stone. And of course, you are invited to provide support to your child’s classroom for various needs such as supplies, field trips, teacher gifts and the like.
We encourage you to seriously consider an annual gift to the Aviator Fund in addition to your continued efforts to support other areas of Lowry Elementary.
Q2: Why are you asking people individually?
A2: We are focusing on individual giving because research indicates it is the most successful form of fundraising for an institution like Lowry Elementary. This approach allows us to continue developing a culture of philanthropy at our school and give many individual opportunities for families to provide financial support to the school.
Q3: I pay taxes. Why do I have to give to public school?
A3: Taxes fund the important basics for public schools such as operational costs, teacher salaries and benefits, administrative salaries and expenses and the like. Furthermore, Colorado has one of the lowest tax bases in the United States. Taxes do not fund Lowry Elementary’s vision for enhanced academic programs, lower class sizes and individualized attention for each student. We must raise additional funds in order for our school to achieve above and beyond the basics.
Q4: How does my money really make a difference?
A4: Money that has been raised through the Aviator Fund and the PTO ensures that your child and all Lowry students receive the extra individual support they need across the spectrum of learning. It gives Lowry Elementary the ability to provide the whole learning experience and the continuity of a high quality primary education year after year. This starts with talented, experienced and energetic teachers who offer more small group instruction with lower student-to-teacher ratios, more challenging academics for high-achieving or gifted and talented students, academic intervention programs to provide individual and small group instruction to students who need additional support, enrichment programs to further encourage the love of learning, and robust specials including technology, library, art, music, P.E. and dance.
Q5: How will the money be allocated?
A5: The Aviator Fund is strictly a fundraising body for Lowry Elementary. It does not have the discretion to allocate funds. As the funds are raised, the CSC, comprised of Lowry teachers, administration, community leaders and parents, will determine where and when the funds are allocated.
Q6: How can you assure my gift is confidential?
A6: Confidentiality is a cornerstone of the Aviator Fund program. Any reporting of dollars raised will be done in a collective fashion. There will be no announcement of names of individuals who have given to the Aviator Fund. Only the treasurer for the Aviator Fund will know what amount you have pledged. Every committee member has signed the Aviator Fund confidentiality agreement and pledges to uphold the confidentiality practices.
Q7: Are you going to approach corporations and foundations, too?
A7: Yes, corporate and foundation support is an important part of the Aviator Fund. While research indicates that individual giving will be the most effective part of our fundraising efforts, there are several corporations and foundations that support the Aviator Fund including Community Banks of Colorado and IRG.
Q8: How is the Aviator Fund different than the PTO?
A8: The Aviator Fund is the main fund that helps Lowry maintain lower student/teacher ratios and enhance its academic offerings in areas to best serve the needs of its entire student body. The PTO focuses on raising money for several different areas of need: after school enrichment opportunities; Missoula Children’s Theatre; AVID for Adenture; books for both the library and the classrooms, as well as other classroom supplies; equipment, supplies, software and musical instruments for the Specials; and social events such as the Back To School Picnic, Spring Carnival, etc.
Q9: How will you keep me apprised of the Aviator Fund’s progress?
A9: The Aviator Fund reports on progress and opportunities to participate. This will come in the form of written letters, email communication, one-on-one contact and all-school meetings.
Q10: Will you expect me to give the same amount every year?
A10: We appreciate any amount you are able to contribute each year. Since this is an annual fund, we strongly encourage you to think about pledging the same amount or more on an annual basis. However, we know that in any given year there may be a set of circumstances that prohibit your ability to give at your current level. We understand this and look forward to the level of annual support you are comfortable with.
Q11: How can you guarantee that all kids will receive benefits from the Eagle Fund?
A11: All Lowry students will benefit from the Aviator Fund; however, each child will not receive the same benefits.
Thanks to the money raised by the Aviator Fund, Lowry is the only non-magnet school in DPS with a full-time gift-talented teacher, Alison Kapasalis. Last year Lowry had about 80 officially identified GT students.
The Aviator Fund further enables Lowry Elementary to provide full-time special education and full-time intervention for students who need extra support. In addition, with your support of the Aviator Fund, Lowry is able to provide classroom paraprofessionals, small group teaching and the Lowry Science Institute.
These additional teaching positions will ultimately benefit all Lowry students as they allow for more effective differentiation and teaching students at their individual level.
Q12: What if I want to secure a language teacher (or some other priority) instead of the priorities you’ve laid out?
A12: The CSC has conducted a rigorous needs assessment to determine the current priorities. This needs assessment will be conducted annually. If you feel there is another program more important than these priorities, or have a suggestion for future consideration, you can bring this matter in front of the CSC, or schedule a conversation with Dr. Cooper.
Q13: How can you assure me that certain families/kids will not receive special treatment?
A13: There is no preferential treatment, as families who give to the Aviator Fund are not distinguished from those who do not to any teachers. For children who have special needs, require an IEP or have other requests, these issues are addressed on an individual and confidential basis by the principal. These requests are handled completely separate from the planning process we’ve described.
Q14: What if I choose not to participate?
A14: Your invitation to participate in supporting the Aviator Fund, or any other aspect of the school, is voluntary. In order for Lowry Elementary to achieve its vision of excellence, it needs the family community to support our school’s culture of giving. This can be done in any amount of financial giving you are comfortable with. You can feel free to support any aspect of Lowry at any time, including the PTO, the Aviator Fund, the Garden or your child’s classroom. In addition, volunteering your time on an occasional basis can make a significant positive difference. We are happy to talk with you about other ways you can support Lowry Elementary based on your interests and limitations.
Q15: I feel donor burnout.
A15: As the saying goes, “It takes a village to raise a child.” Our school community is made up of more than 500 students and their families, all of whom care deeply about the education of their children. Many families find their own unique way of contributing to the school, both financially and with volunteer support. We have streamlined giving opportunities to make it easier for you to plan and budget. There are no giving requirements. And there is no tuition to pay, with the exception of ECE and full-day kindergarten. Our school is developing a strong culture of giving and we’d like you to be involved in this ongoing effort. We are happy to help you find a way to support Lowry so that it does not feel like a burden, but rather an opportunity to be a part of our school’s continued climb toward excellence.
Q16: How does Lowry Elementary set and achieve its academic goals?
A16: The CSC drafts and revises a Unified Improvement Plan. Objectives concentrate on student needs based on their individual progress. Each year, the CSC will conduct a school needs assessment and put forth funding priorities the Aviator Fund can support.
Q17: What other milestones has Lowry achieved since the Aviator Fund has started?
A17: Children who live in the Lowry neighborhood make up the majority of the students at Lowry. In addition, Lowry teachers reported the highest satisfaction with their school among all teachers throughout DPS. Lowry also consistently outranks the DPS average in parent surveys in areas such as academics, safety and leadership.