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Hillsboro Schools Foundation fundraiser brings in $184K

A banner year for the nonprofit group means more money for the district's teachers and schools.

The Hillsboro Schools Foundation is celebrating this week after its annual fundraiser and auction brought in more money for local schools than ever before.

On Saturday, Feb. 25, the HSF — a nonprofit group that raises money to support the school district — netted more than $184,000 from the dinner and auction, more than the first five years of the fundraiser combined.

"It really raised the roof for us," said Aron Carleson, executive director of the foundation. 'This was the biggest we've ever seen."

Carleson said the sold-out dinner and auction attracted the largest turnout the organization has seen.

"We had more people than we are typically accustomed to," she said. "We kept taking in more and more people. Finally, we said, 'Our caterer is going to kill us, we have to stop. We're sold out.'"

Last year, the fundraiser brought in about $170,000.

"Last year was bigger than the year before," Carleson said. "Every year people are hearing more and more about it. I had folks who said for years, 'Oh, we're going to come someday,' who finally came this year."

The money will be donated to the Hillsboro School District to supplement its budget, Carleson said.

"Teachers decide what they want the funding to go for," Carleson said. Teachers apply for grants for special projects and programs.

The organization has donated millions to the district since 2000, funding everything form compost gardens at elementary schools to musical instrument rentals for students.

Although Hillsboro is one of the largest school districts in the state with more than 20,000 students, Carleson said schools don't receive adequate funding from the state budget — and has required donations from across the community.

Without that additional funding, Carleson said the school district's programs would look very different.

"It would be very plain," Carleson said. "If we didn't have the support of the community for our kids, all the homework clubs, engineering programs for girls and others would be gone. If we were stuck with just what we got from state funding, there wouldn't be any money for the extras."

Teachers decide how to spend Foundation money by applying for grants to fund classroom projects.

"There are amazing things happening," Carleson said.

This year, foundation officials said the organization would be donating $140,000 to the district for new science kits in elementary school classrooms. The organization has been fundraising for the kits since 2014.

Despite the February fundraiser's success, Carleson said the work isn't ever done.

"Less than 48 hours after the auction, I was back at the table with groups, asking for more money," she said.