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Belle Vernon Area out to establish foundation

The Belle Vernon Area School District came one step closer to creating a charity organization that could eventually channel donations to district endeavors.

The school board Monday unanimously authorized Superintendent Dr. John Wilkinson and attorneys Ira Weiss and James McGraw to establish the BVA Charitable Foundation.

The proposal is to include rules and guidelines and the foundation will operate under the Community Foundation of Westmoreland County.

According to its website, the Community Foundation has awarded more than $14 million in grants to local nonprofit organizations since 1995.

“If we set up this foundation, the money will be tax deductible … and it goes directly back to our kids,” Wilkinson said after the meeting. “If we approach people or there’s ever an opportunity for people to donate (memorial) money, as opposed to buying flowers, they can give it to the school. Once we publicize this, it will be just like giving it to any charitable organization.”

Wilkinson said that in time, the foundation could fund college scholarships for district students.

“There are two different groups: there’s the charitable donation and then there’s the scholarship donation,” Wilkinson explained. “We want to go with the charitable right off the bat and get that organized first because that seems to be an easier process.”

Board Treasurer Joe Grata said once the proposal to create the foundation is finalized and approved, Belle Vernon Area will be in position to finance projects without dipping into district funds.

Grata noted that numerous school districts in Westmoreland County and the Pittsburgh area have formed similar foundations.

“Right now, we don’t have any mechanism in place to give the district nonprofit status to accumulate funds and finance things you don’t normally finance out of tax dollars,” Grata said. “This will put us a step above, if you will, and help subsidize projects without using tax money.”

In other business, the board rejected a bid from RKA Petroleum for unleaded gasoline and awarded the contract to Glassmere Fuel, the lowest bidder at $2.437 cents per gallon for this school year.

Board president Aaron Bialon said RKA’s proposal also required the purchase of diesel fuel. The board preferred a separate diesel contract.

The board agreed to pay all bills, although Grata voted no. Grata said after the meeting his no vote was more out of principle than against a specific expenditure.

“I was appointed treasurer in July, and I feel with that position comes some responsibility for oversight,” Grata said. “I’m not happy with some procedures and policies at Belle Vernon Area, the way we present our financial information.

“Although it may be technically correct and meets the requirements of audits we are subject to, I feel we could be more transparent because the public doesn’t very often get involved with transactions.

“I have some issues with how we handle procedures in general.”

Rick Bruni Jr. is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at [email protected] or 724-684-2635.


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