Christmas came early for the Martha's Vineyard Public Charter School, with the offer from a donor to match contributions up to $100,000 to the school's annual fundraising drive, which started a few weeks ago. The donor has asked to remain anonymous.
Development director Paul Karasik said the funds raised are intended for a building project to expand the school facility.
Unlike other public schools in Massachusetts, charter schools receive a per-pupil fee from the local school system but must cover operating expenses and capital costs on their own, Mr. Karasik explained. With enrollment at an all-time high of 172, he said, "We're bursting at the seams. If we can match the $100,000 donation, we can begin to break ground as early as spring vacation to get this up and running, provided we get approved and get permits." Plans call for a new addition that will include an art room and one-on-one meeting spaces, as well as improvements to some existing classrooms.
In a phone call Tuesday night, the donor said he and his family recently moved full-time to the Island, because he plans to retire in May. He and his wife courted on the Island, and living here permanently is "a dream come true," he said. "This is a jewel, this place."
After meeting some parents and students from the charter school, and visiting the school a few times, the donor said he was impressed by its family atmosphere and close-knit community.
He and his wife have a child who will be a senior at the charter school next fall, and in deference to the teen, he wishes to keep news about his donation low-key. "We've worked with affordable housing for the last seven years to protect the nature of the Vineyard, and it seemed appropriate to expand our efforts to the charter school, because it too is a jewel," the donor said.
Inspired by his generous offer, Mr. Karasik is promoting a "one-hundred for one-thousand plan," with the idea being that if 100 families donate $1,000 apiece, the school will have the matching $100,000 in no time. In the meantime, he said, "We're so appreciative of any contribution we get, from the 13 cents a young boy gave me today, to everything in-between."