Washburn launches fundraising campaign

TANGLETOWN — The Washburn High School Foundation launched a new website and a major fundraising campaign to support academic, art and athletic programs at the school.

The foundation aims to raise $400,000 by the end of the 2009–2010 school year. The majority of those funds will support academic programs, including the staff training required to implement the International Baccalaureate curriculum, the foundation reported on its website.

If the fundraising goal is met, about $50,000 will go to support arts and athletics programs. Other priorities are capital improvements at the school, including a renovation of the Washburn auditorium, and expansion of the foundation’s endowment.

The campaign’s recent launch comes as Minneapolis Public Schools grapples with a project budget shortfall of about $28 million for the 2009–2010 school year. The Minneapolis School Board planned to vote June 30 on a budget plan that included cuts focused on its Policy and Operations division, a pay and benefits freeze for employees and, potentially, short-term borrowing to make up for a delay in state funding to schools.

Washburn has struggled in recent years with chronic academic underperformance and a shrinking student body, but there were signs this spring that the school may be in the early stages of a turn-around.

About 60 percent of Washburn staff were replaced after the district announced a “fresh start” for the school in the spring of 2008. Since then, placement requests from incoming freshman jumped about 8 percent for the 2009–2010 school year.

The Washburn High School Foundation calls its campaign Windows of Opportunity for a New Generation, and plans an official kick-off party in October.