Of the Baker City Herald

Michelle Kaseberg hopes to use her former classmates as guinea pigs when the Baker High School Class of 1978 meets for its 25th reunion this summer.

They will be some of the first to be asked to contribute to the Baker Community Education Foundation if plans for establishing the nonprofit corporation are realized in time.

Kaseberg and Rusty Munn are serving as temporary co-chairs of a community group working to organize the foundation. They updated the Baker School Board on their progress Tuesday night.

andquot;This is an awesome idea for people to give back to the school district and the community,andquot; Kaseberg said today. andquot;We plan to target alumni.andquot;

Although Munn is not a BHS graduate, his two children attend Baker schools. He hopes the foundation can help the district cope with further budget cuts that are expected because of state funding shortfalls.

andquot;I really feel like this is something where local people can make a difference,andquot; he said. andquot;I don't see us getting much from Salem.andquot;

Munn said he has seen the impact school funding cuts have had in his family. His daughter is bused to the high school daily to study geometry because of schedule changes and staff reductions at the middle school. As a result, she misses 15 minutes of science daily, he said.

andquot;They're doing their best, but these funding restrictions are costing our kids some educational opportunities,andquot; he said.

Munn credited Superintendent Don Ulrey with pushing for formation of the foundation. The group is developing bylaws and articles of incorporation and then will elect officers and begin seeking contributions, he said.

Others helping organize the foundation include Carolyn Kulog, Dorthy Wooters, Baker School Board Chair Eloise Dielman, Cherrie Carlson-Conklin, Richard McKim and Dave Lindley. The group welcomes anyone interested in supporting the effort and is especially in need of those with grant-writing experience, Munn said.

The volunteers are working with other school districts who already have established foundations, including La Grande, Enterprise, Pendleton and Gresham-Barlow.

andquot;There are a lot of good success stories,andquot; said Kaseberg, a Pioneer Bank employee.

The bank has provided support for the Enterprise foundation, which funds its district's art and home economics programs.

andquot;People can actually donate to this tax-free or leave money for an endowmentandquot; in their will, she said. andquot;There are a lot of things we can do.andquot;

To be included on a mailing list that will provide updates on the foundation's progress, call Kaseberg at Pioneer Bank, 523-6327.