Fundraiser named for new foundation

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Monday, July 26, 2010
— A new foundation to enhance opportunity for Janesville public schools students has begun its work.

Among the foundation board’s first actions at a meeting Thursday was to select a semi-retired Janesville Gazette executive as its fundraiser.

Superintendent Karen Schulte said she selected Dave Johnson from a pool of 30 applicants. Most applicants had no experience with fundraising, Schulte said, and Johnson’s name rose to the top.

Schulte recommended Johnson to the board, which had final say.

Dave Johnson stepped down as general manager of the Gazette at the end of 2009 but still does community work for the Gazette.

Terms of Johnson’s contract are still being worked out. A proposal being considered is that he be paid 10 percent of the first $500,000 he raises, or $50,000, and then 5 percent of additional money raised, Schulte said.

“I don’t know if it will be minimum wage, based on this formula,” Johnson said, noting that this is a difficult time to raise money.

“Nonetheless, you’ve got to start somewhere. If you wait till the economy’s good, you’re three years behind,” Johnson said.

Johnson was involved in many community improvement efforts during his 40 years with the Gazette, including United Way and Rotary Club fundraising.

“I’ve got some time on my hands, and this is an opportunity for me to give back to the school system I came through and maybe replace the desk I carved my initials on,” said Johnson, who is known for his particular brand of humor.

Schulte said she sees potential for tapping a reservoir of good will from people who have fond memories for a school they attended. Bequests also are a potential source of donations.

Donors will be able to designate money for a particular school or for specific programs in academics, the arts or other extracurriculars.

Another goal will be to use the money to level the playing field for students who live in poverty, Schulte said.

Schulte said people will be able to donate for sports teams, but she suggested that booster clubs already exist for that purpose.

Some day, the foundation might spawn foundations that support individual schools, which has been done successfully in some other Wisconsin districts, Schulte said.

Johnson said he is under contract with the Gazette through 2011 to do community and committee work. He said he sees no conflict with adding the duties of raising money for schools.

Johnson noted he is not a voting member of the board. He said he will not be involved in policy, only raising money.

The school board approved creation of the Excellence in Education Foundation in May. The board also approved members of a board to govern the foundation. They are Sandra Ardrey, the wife of school board member Greg Ardrey; Tim Cullen, the former school board member; Franklin Middle School teacher Camilla Owen; Jackson School teacher Dori MacFarlane; and Steve Kennedy, vice president of Rock Road Companies.

Owen was elected to be president. Audrey will be vice president.

The foundation is working to gain the status of a 501(c)(3) organization, which permits tax-exempt contributions.

Last updated: 2:16 pm Thursday, December 13, 2012

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