CCSD1 accepts $125,000 donation from Sinclair Oil
CEO: ‘It is in our best interest to have a very good education system’
By Trudy Balcom
RAWLINS — Ross Matthews, CEO of Sinclair Oil, visited the district offices of Carbon County School District No. 1 at noon Tuesday to meet with members of the Board of Trustees and staff for a special occasion.
At the brief meeting, which served as the kick-off for the District’s partnership with the county’s largest private employer, Matthews presented the district with the symbolic Big Check — a donation of $125,000.
The donation is intended to cover the cost of the position of the early childhood liaison, as well as some costs associated with the position. Earlier this summer, CCSD1 hired veteran teacher Louise Stephenson to fill that role.
In late May, the Sinclair Oil Corporation announced it planned to partner with CCSD1 on an initiative to fund significant improvements in education for community children. The check is the first installment on the corporation’s multi-year, multi-pronged commitment to improve education in the Rawlins community.
The four elements of the initiative are: Kindergarten-Readiness, the Book Trust, Graduate All Students Successful, and Strive Together Community Engagement.
Stephenson, and CCSD1 Superintendent Fletcher Turcato, thanked Matthews for his support.
“In times like these, when energy prices are down and the economic landscape of Wyoming is hurting badly, words cannot express the gratitude of our Board, District and community for this amazing gesture to help our students,” Turcato said in an email.
“I am honored and proud of the stance that the Sinclair Corporation has taken for our communities and students, and they should be applauded by all for this donation in such tough economic times,” he added.
Turcato also praised the efforts of Joan Evans, a consultant working for Sinclair Oil to develop the partnership proposals, saying she was “integral in the communication, footwork, and planning for this donation.”
Matthews is standing behind his company’s efforts to partner with the community to improve education.
“My belief is that in a community where we are one of the largest employers, we have a responsibility to give back to the community that gives to us,” he said.
“So we provide employment, but without the employees, we wouldn’t have a company,” he added.
Matthews said he is unsure if this partnership is the first of it’s kind for the company, but he said Sinclair Oil would continue the partnership with CCSD1 “as long as we are making a difference, a positive difference.”
Matthews said he is hoping to see demonstrable differences in outcomes with the school district.
“I would like to see higher graduation rates, higher test scores — better future employees, not just for Sinclair but for other employers,” Matthews said.
Matthews said that he wants to take on the idea that Rawlins is what it is, and that it’s not going to change — similar to efforts Matthews said the company has made to improve safety and operations at the refinery.
“When I came out here, I talked with folks, I talked with retirees…some of the older folks said Rawlins is the way it is, you’ll never make a difference…and I said, ‘you watch,’ ” Matthews said.
“I don’t like being told ‘you can’t,’” he said. “I just hope people in the community realize we are trying to make a difference.”