After 14 years as president of the Monroe County Education Foundation, John Padget on Wednesday passed the gavel to former School Board member Steve Pribramsky.
The foundation's main function is, through fundraising, purchasing prepaid college scholarships for students who successfully complete Monroe County's Take Stock in Children mentoring program.
Pribramsky, an accountant, was elected to the School Board's District 1 seat, serving from 2006 until 2010. He is a former Education Foundation treasurer.
After taking over the meeting, Pribramsky and the board voted to terminate the scholarship of a Marathon High School student participating in Take Stock in Children, which requires students to stay crime- and drug-free, maintain good grades and get involved in community service. They also meet once a week with a mentor.
If successful from seventh grade through graduation from high school, they are rewarded with a scholarship good for two years at one of Florida's 28 community colleges, followed by two years at one of the 12 state colleges or universities.
The termination, based on bad grades, was preceded by three new students signing up for the mentorship program.
"I think what we just did is one of the greatest things we get to do and this is one of the hardest," Pribramsky said.
"The bar of Take Stock's success has been raised greatly in recent years, and the challenges for our future sustainability are always there," Pribramsky said. "With [now-president emeritus] John Padget remaining active, along with a strong executive committee and dedicated board members, there is no question that we will continue to make the Monroe County's Take Stock in Children program the gold standard for the state."
Since 2001, Take Stock's Monroe County chapter has graduated 435 students from high school and sent them on to college, and currently serves 245 middle- and high-schoolers from Key Largo to Key West.
The Monroe County Education Foundation also sponsors enrichment programs for Keys students, including the Experiment in International Living. That program sends students abroad to live with foreign families for an immersive cultural experience. The foundation also oversees a leadership program called LEAP (Leadership, Excellence, Accelerating Potential) that helps students transition into higher education by living on a college campus for a week.