Foundation hopes to help Olympic High students

jmarks@lakewyliepilot.comMarch 12, 2013 

— About a dozen Steele Creek leaders decided where Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools can’t or won’t pay for projects at their high school, they will.

During the Steele Creek Resident Association annual meeting Feb. 28, Charles Wilkerson of Steele Creek Printing & Design, announced the formation of a nonprofit foundation to help fund projects at the Olympic Community of Schools.

The Olympic Foundation has about $50,000 now, said Wilkerson, also president of the Arrowood Business Association and board member with Charlotte Chamber of Commerce SouthWest Chapter.

“It’s been almost two years in the making we’ve been talking about it,” the foundation vice president said. “It gained traction. We have set big goals.”

Olympic High School, as it was called before a 2006 reorganization into five specialty schools, opened in 1966. In recent years, there has been discussion about how to fund needs there, particularly in 2007 when students and parents asked CMS for help renovating their school.

That year, voters approved a $516 million CMS bond that included three Olympic projects costing a little more than $6.8 million. Upgrades to roofing and the school stadium/track area were included. Work has not begun on the new 4,000-seat stadium and field house upgrades, with concession stands and restrooms. Neither has track replacement or turf installation.

Around the same time, residents and community leaders formed a capital improvement committee with hopes of raising $10 million. That committee no longer meets.

The new foundation hopes to provide funds where teachers need them. Possibilities include continued education, school supplies or special programs. The foundation will be modeled on the success of East Mecklenburg High School, where an alumnus provided a gift to match donations from others.

“We want to help support our teachers,” said Charles Beatty, foundation president. “They’re doing a great job, and we want to be able to provide the extra resources to do the things they’d like to do but aren’t able to do.”

Eventually the group would like to have a point person at Olympic to direct money where it’s needed most.

“We want to have somebody in the school who knows the teachers and knows what they need,” Beatty said.

Olympic has had recent funding help. In 2011 Olympic was one of four schools chosen from almost 70 applicants in both Carolinas to receive weight-room equipment from the Carolina Panthers. The total value of those donations was $250,000.

Group members say they’re not looking to pay for all of the needs at Olympic. They’ll continue to push for the district to fund as many improvements and programs as possible.

“It’ll be the things CMS won’t be able to fund that then we’ll be able to do,” Wilkerson said.

For more information about the foundation, call 704-697-1757 or 704-525-2657.

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