June 04, 2002 11:00 pm

By Gary Fletcher

Observer Staff Writer

ENTERPRISE — This community is working to do on its own what state funding is unable to accomplish for schools.

Earlier this year more than $600,000 had to be cut from the Enterprise School District budget, due to declining enrollment and a corresponding decline in state funding. Budget reductions are nothing new. Cuts have eliminated 16 teaching positions over the past two years.

For the 2002-03 school year, ag/shop and home economics programs were cut to half time, and middle school art was eliminated.

The Enterprise Educational Foundation announced this week it will provide $80,000 to restore the agriculture and home economics programs to full-time with $12,000 of that amount earmarked as a minimum the foundation will commit to kindergarten-through-eighth-grade art. It is hoped that will at least provide an instructional aide with an art background for a minimal program.

The group also hopes that local artists will assist in the classroom, foundation president Mike Wiedeman said

The foundation's larger goal is to raise $40,000 to $60,000 to provide a full art program. Continuing fund-raisers are the source of art funds. "Swinging for the Arts," a golf tournament, is scheduled for June 24 at the Enterprise golf course.

The foundation also has scheduled an auction for Aug. 3 in conjunction with the 1972-73 class reunion alumni dinner at the Enterprise Elks Lodge.

The foundation is seeking donations from 60 Wallowa County corporations.

Janet Heubach of Wallowa Resources has been hired by the foundation to apply for grants. Wiedeman thinks the foundation already has some good prospects for matching grants.

The foundation is committed to helping the district fund co-curricular and extracurricular programs including music and sports.

It kicked off its fund drive March 20 with a goal of getting commitments of $300,000 of tax-deductible donations per year. The group has been picking up about $1,000 per day and "we're still getting donations every day," Wiedeman said. "We appreciate that the community is really stepping up to make sure we have a good quality school," Wiedeman said.

There are about 400 separate donors locally, throughout the Northwest and as far away as Wisconsin. About 20 percent of the donations are unsolicited. "They read or hear about us, contact us and send a check. "It's pretty neat," Wiedeman said. The foundation's e-mail address is This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it

The foundation is "a tremendous asset to the district," school board member Randy Anderson said. "It's a sad indictment of the state" that fund-raising efforts have to be used for this.

"It would be nice if there was adequate state funding and this $80,000 could go to extras like the computers the foundation provided for the computer lab two years ago," Anderson said.

Fishtrap Inc., another Enterprise non-profit educational foundation, is working to provide advanced placement writing classes on Friday afternoons by hosting visiting writers.

The board adopted the $7.4 million budget Monday night. However, the district stands to lose an additional $203,000 because of the defeat of Measure 13 in the May 21 election. Superintendent Bill Eggers fears this will result in the loss of more teaching and non-teaching staff.

The district is required to give employees 60 days' notice before school starts if their positions are being cut. Additional pink slips must go out by June 27.

Eggers is holding out hope that the special legislative session later this month may provide some mitigation. The board will conduct a special work session at 7 p.m. Tuesday to work out plans in case the budget needs to be further reduced.

Likely to be cut next is middle school athletics, said Eggers, who will be leaving at the end of the school year.

His job is one already eliminated from the budget.