News and Tribune

September 5, 2013

Education foundation lays groundwork with new president

Al Knable takes over reins at New Albany-Floyd County Education Foundation


NEW ALBANY — Hoping to make more people aware of his organization, Al Knable said he hopes he can get the community to open their hearts and pocketbooks for schools in Floyd County.

The New Albany-Floyd County Education Foundation selected Knable, a New Albany dermatologist, as its president of the board of directors. After serving two years on the board, he said he hopes he can fill the shoes of his predecessor, Jerry Finn.

“I’m looking at it like dad had this great car and now he’s letting me drive it,” Knable said. “I just want to be able to carry on what the board has established.”

The foundation has helped the New Albany-Floyd County Consolidated School Corp. pay for full day kindergarten and begin its International Baccalaureate program.

While helping fund programs and giving teachers grants to help fund new resources for their classrooms, Knable said he hopes to lay some groundwork for an endowment.

To do that, he wants to let more community members know that they can help fund schools.

“It’s tough to get ingrained in the public awareness like that,” Knable said. “We’re working on ways to make it easier for people to leave money to us and we’re bringing new people into the board. We have a lot of people who are rolling off right now, so we’re trying to get people who are really enthusiastic about seeing education improve in the county.”

Though he said it may take 20 years to get the foundation to a self-sustaining level, at around $1 million, the process needs to begin as soon as possible.

But he said there seems to be some confusion about the foundation’s funding. While the name is similar to the school corporation it serves — the New Albany-Floyd County Consolidated School Corp. — he said the foundation doesn’t receive any tax dollars and relies entirely on donations.

He said as the funding inequity concerns continue to plague schools across the state, foundations like his can help schools make up the difference between what they’re paid per student versus others around Indiana.

“An organization like ours can really help fill that funding gap and take a lot of pressure off the elected officials who might otherwise feel a need to try to raise taxes,” Knable said. “We’ve literally pumped millions of dollars back into the schools in a charitable, voluntary manner. Those are dollars that may have been made up through taxation.”

According to the organization’s 2013 annual report, it funneled more than $529,000 into the district. Of that, $300,000 funded the International Baccalaureate program and security upgrades across the district.

Nearly another $75,000 went to the foundation’s Great Classroom Projects. Teachers submit requests for grants for various resources in their classrooms and have a chance at $500 once a year from the foundation.

Knable’s wife, Jessica Knable, serves on the district’s board of trustees.

Finn, executive director of the Horseshoe Foundation of Floyd County, said he’s glad to see Knable as the board’s leader.

He said though working on the foundation is a labor of love, it requires a lot of dedication.

“I think to be effective in that position, you have to be focused on the mission of the organization,” Finn said. “It can almost be like a part-time job to be a really effective member of any charitable organization. Considering the education foundation is a young organization, effective leadership is critical.”

Knable said keeping the evolution of the organization going is vital in keeping it relevant and effective.

“Though we definitely want to continue with and build upon our previous successes I think it's vital to our longevity to reinvigorate and perhaps to a degree redefine ourselves periodically,” Knable said in an email. “I think my biggest challenge is to find a way to do that to an already outstanding organization.”

Finn said he thinks his successor is right for the job and looks forward to his accomplishments.

“I was happy to see somebody with the passion for our students and teachers that Al has in that position,” Finn said. “I think he’ll do a great job. He’s very focused and dedicated and has been a great member of the board.”