“We remain upbeat and confident; we know that we can do it,” said Rochelle Henson, a member of the Knightsen Parent/Teacher Club. “We have to keep moving forward and I think if we really get the word out, out goal will be attainable.”
In order to keep the doors of the financially strapped Old River School open for another year, the group needs to raise $75,000 or at least secure solid financial commitments by June. The district itself is facing bankruptcy and Superintendent Vickey Rinehart has been in discussions with the Brentwood and Byron school districts, exploring the possibility of a district merger.
While the $75,000 will not alleviate the district’s overall financial stress, it will, in the interim, allow students to maintain their regular schedules and routines.
“To move the kids again (this is Old River’s first year of operation) without knowing the fate of the district would not be a good thing for the kids,” said Henson. “The staff, parents and administration have worked so hard to make this a great environment for the kids that it would be sad if we had to move them.”
Henson said the parent/teacher group has raised approximately $3,000 so far, but added that an aggressive push beginning this month toward fundraisers and general community awareness should help to close the gap.
“It’s overwhelming if you think of it in one big number,” said Henson. “But if every family with a child enrolled in the school was able to raise $600, there would be enough money to keep the school open.”
The group’s largest event will be the tri-tip dinner and auction to be held Saturday, May 2 at the De Luna Ranch in Brentwood. Open to the community as well as families within the school district, Henson is hopeful the event will do well.
“This De Luna Ranch event is going to be our biggest fundraiser,” she said, “and we’re working hard to get the word out. We’re sending out letters asking for donations from friends and companies and just letting people know in general what we’re doing. I’ve been hearing that there are still people in the school district who don’t know about the situation, so we’re doing a big push to get the word out.”
Rinehart said she’s appreciative of the community’s efforts: “I am so grateful for everyone’s cooperative attitude and dedication to the district. Things are looking better; we have a small amount (of money) right now and everyone’s working on fundraisers and ways to raise the money.”
Henson admitted that the challenges are great, but the spirit is even greater. “It’s definitely a head game,” she said. “You have to get in the right frame of mind and know that you can do it. I’m driving my family crazy I know, but that’s OK. With a little good luck and some hard work, we’ll do it.”
For more information on the De Luna Ranch fundraiser, upcoming events or volunteer opportunities, call 925-626-3330. Updates can also be found on the group’s blog at www.saveoldriver.blogspot.com or by e-mailing Henson at email@example.com.