School District rakes in more than $100,000 in donations

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Generosity appears to be running rampant in Whitefish.

The Whitefish School District recently accepted a total of $105,500 in donations. Four separate donations were approved by the School Board — an anonymous $10,000 for the orchestra program, an anonymous $75,000 donation via the Whitefish Community Foundation for the high school’s future Innovation Lab, an anonymous $13,000 donation via the Whitefish Community Foundation to support music technology at Muldown and a $7,500 unrestricted donation for the middle school from the Broussard Charitable Foundation.


A total of $10,000 came in via anonymous donation for the purchase of a cello, string bass and storage equipment for both instruments.

Those instruments would be used by both the middle school and high school.

Trustee Heather Vrentas said she was pleased with the investment in the school orchestra program, but wanted to earmark some of that money for maintenance of the instruments.

“Donation money is awesome, but it seems like to be responsible stewards of valuable assets we should ask that portions of the donation are allocated to maintenance,” she said.

The board unanimously accepted the donation with an understanding that 10 percent of the donation be allocated to maintenance costs.

Innovation Lab

In order to get the Innovation Lab, a technology hub for students and adult education participants, up and running, a $75,000 donation came in to support the purchase of equipment and software.

The donation came from a donor-advised fund at the Whitefish Community Foundation and will cover start-up hardware, software, and furnishings.

Superintendent Heather Davis Schmidt said she and others have been working with Flathead Valley Community College to develop a good starting offering for students and community members in terms of technology and software.

“We have our shopping list of our items that we want to purchase in order to set up the innovation lab,” she said.

Information in the board meeting packet lists audio, visual recording, video and sound design, programming and game development, robotics and engineering, graphic arts and website design, and desktop publishing as services that the Innovation Lab will provide.

Of the $75,000 donation, about $24,300 will got to furniture, fixtures and equipment costs, $42,500 to hardware investments and $8,800 to software costs.

The board also didn’t have to worry about earmarking funds for maintenance in the future, Davis Schmidt noted.

“The difference between this donation and the previous donation discussion is that the ongoing long-term maintenance lab, staffing and the future direction of the lab will be supported by our adult education levy, which is already in place,” she said.

A small fee will be collected by adult education users to help support software upgrades and other costs in the future as well, she said.

Davis Schmidt also noted that while working with FVCC to provide a bridge adult education program between high school and the college, the district is making sure to not overlap with FVCC.

“We are very cautious about making sure we’re not trying to step on the toes of Flathead Valley Community College, but rather we’re trying to fill a gap,” she said.

Music at Muldown

Another $13,000 came in to purchase a class set of 30 iPad Minis and a charging cart for Muldown music students.

The request came from a grant application by Dawn Hashley and Paul Rossi, both music teachers at the elementary school, and funding was fulfilled through an anonymous donation from a donor-advised fund at the Whitefish Community Foundation.

The set of iPads will serve 35 different classes between kindergarten through fourth grade and will allow students to explore and develop digital music and composition competence through music-related applications.

Long-term maintenance of the iPads will come from technology levy funds, as the $13,000 donation will be entirely used for the purchase of the equipment.

Middle School

Finally, the Whitefish Middle School received another unrestricted donation from the Broussard Charitable Foundation in the amount of $7,500.

Last year the school received a similar $10,000 donation, which was used to put a covered pavilion on the playground.

Middle school Principal Josh Branstetter said investments in professional development have been tossed around as possible uses for the donation.

“We haven’t really decided what we’re going to do with that check,” he said.

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