EDITORIAL: Toyota’s endowment

Toyota Motor Corporation’s commitment to a $50 million endowment to strengthen public school districts in the PUL Alliance counties (Pontotoc, Union and Lee), announced in 2007, becomes a reality this year with the promised first $5 million payment.
The school districts – New Albany, Union County, Pontotoc, Pontotoc, County, Lee County, Tupelo, Baldwyn and Nettleton – will use the first funds for curriculum audits to help determine their strengths and weaknesses.
Above the important tangible benefits of the first payment is the explicit reassurance from Toyota’s chief spokesman for the Blue Springs project that the company remains committed to Toyota Motor Manufacturing Mississippi – to some kind of automotive production at the Blue Springs campus, where a sprawling plant building awaits a corporate decision to resume preparations for production.
Toyota announced that it would build the Mississippi plant in February 2007, and it simultaneously revealed plans for the education endowment. But the international decline in auto sales related to the economy put the production plans on indefinite hold.
Tupelo Mayor Jack Reed, Jr., and 1st District U.S. Rep. Travis Childers, D-Booneville, both said recently they believe movement on the Blue Springs campus will happen soon, but not necessarily immediately.
Toyota’s dramatic commitment to improving public education fits hand-in-glove with its corporate commitment to quality – achieved with well-educated, highly trained employees.
The curriculum audits will cost about $278,000, leaving a hefty balance in the first payment, and additional investments are expected to be announced soon. A six-member Toyota Endowment Advisory Committee makes recommendations for spending. Phi Delta Kappa International, an education association, will conduct the audits, using 53 criteria to determine curriculum strengths and weaknesses.
Toyota’s payments are scheduled for 10 years, what originally would have been the first 10 years of production at Blue Springs.
All the funds will be managed by CREATE, the regional not-for-profit foundation headquartered in Tupelo.

NEMS Daily Journal