Tahoe-Truckee Excellence in Education: 30 years of effecting change
Special to the Sun
The Tahoe Truckee Excellence in Education Foundation is celebrating its 30-year anniversary this school year. Over the next several months, we will share stories about the foundation’s history.
To effect change, it requires an idea paired with the passion and dedication to see it through. It was a team of people with a shared vision that would generate the creation of the Excellence in Education Foundation 30 years ago.
As the Tahoe Truckee Unified School District began to feel the impact of changes in education funding, a group of concerned citizens formed to pass “Measure E,” a parcel tax designed to support local education.
When the measure did not pass, the group encouraged voters who were in favor of the tax to send $40 per parcel to the group in order to start the Excellence in Education Foundation. Formed as a 501c3 in 1986, the group went on to raise approximately $30,000 between 1987 and 1989, which was distributed to the district.
In 1990, the Skiing for Schools fundraising program was launched by Squaw Valley in conjunction with the opening of The Resort at Squaw Creek. At that time, the Excellence in Education Foundation, unlike other education foundations in California, made the decision to respond to teacher-identified needs in the classroom, rather than district-identified needs.
“The original goal of the foundation was to support our local schools in whatever way would best support our students’ learning environment. This included providing courses, supplies, and personnel,” said Jan Ganong, a founding member of Excellence in Education, and retired TTUSD speech pathologist.
Foundation board members also decided early on that half of every dollar raised would be spent on the current year’s grant requests, and half would be put into an endowment fund, where only the interest from this fund could be spent.
Founding members of the Foundation continued to be interested in passing a parcel tax, which could raise more money in a shorter time, so their efforts focused on this goal. Ganong, along with others, banded together to campaign for the passage of a parcel tax.
“When the parcel tax first passed and was able to take over these kind of programs, the Foundation changed and became a grant giving vehicle for teachers who had innovative ideas to enhance student learning,” Ganong continued. “There were many overlaps between Excellence in Education and the parcel tax, which allowed us to fine tune the unique ways each fund supported local kids.”
In recent years, the Foundation has evolved and today supports bigger district programs and initiatives like the chromebook program and 21st Century classroom. Teacher-identified grant requests are also evaluated annually, with more than $250,000 in grant and other resource funding provided each year.
“I am proud of how our community has supported local education opportunities through their contributions to our continuing parcel tax, by purchasing Dining for Schools and Golfing for Schools cards, and participating in Skiing for Schools days that support the Foundation,” said Ganong.
To become a Friend of Education or learn more about the Foundation, visit exined.org.
Jessica Weaver is an Excellence in Education board member.