By MATT CRANE
Starkville Academyâ€™s Building Momentum capital campaign is living up to its name as school officials announced Monday more than $1 million has been raised toward its working $1.2 million goal.
John â€śDocâ€ť Stephens, SA school leader, said he is encouraged by the outstanding support the campaign, which began in Sept. 2012, has received and board members are looking to increase its initial goal.
â€śWe are way ahead of the game with about 40 percent into our time consumption planned, and weâ€™re at about 80 percent with the money,â€ť he said. â€śWeâ€™re going to set a target goal above our initial goal because we have the momentum and impetus to go for $1.5 or $1.6 million. That will be something weâ€™ll evaluate and see what we think with the people we have talked to.â€ť
Stephens said Building Momentum is a challenge and opportunity to secure the future of SA and maintain the schoolâ€™s mission and vision that began more than 40 years ago.
â€śIf excellence is our tradition, it must also be our goal,â€ť he said. â€śItâ€™s about having the resources to continue our vision of educating and developing leaders locally and for the world in the 21st century.â€ť
After a feasibility study conducted by the J.F. Smith Group, the SA Board of Directors moved forward with phase one of the campaign in which money will be used to fund construction of an elementary multi-purpose building, endowments for competitive teacher salaries, improvements for classroom technology, campus beautification, academic enrichment and classroom productivity.
Campaign Vice Chair and SA board member Jud Skelton said he was encouraged by campaign initiativeâ€™s support.
â€śIn my opinion, the single most important thing we can do is support our teachers by equipping them with the tools and materials they need to perform their jobs,â€ť he said. â€śBy starting the Starkville Academy Endowment Fund, as many other private schools have already done, we can secure our childrenâ€™s future and supplement teacher salaries.â€ť
Overseeing a school of 700 students, Stephens said Skelton championed the founding of an endowment fund, a key component he said was missing for the future of SA.
â€śWe will begin our endowment and are hoping to minimally have $500,000 in it for teacher compensation, academic enrichment and technology,â€ť he said. â€śThose will be the three areas that are earmarked and protected for the longevity and future of this school.â€ť
Campaign Chair Andrew Martin said money already pledged and received has come from SA alumni, patrons and friends throughout the Starkville community.
â€śItâ€™s overwhelming the support we have received to date,â€ť he said. â€śWeâ€™re excited about not only the level of funding weâ€™ve secured so far, but also the campaign opportunities we have lined up.â€ť
Echoing Martinâ€™s sentiments, SA Board President Leann Markham said she is encouraged by campaignâ€™s early success and feels confident of its future.
â€śI think weâ€™ve gone well above what we expected and we hope to continue,â€ť she said. â€śWe hope everybody sees the need and knows that we are on the right track.â€ť