- Associated Press - Saturday, March 26, 2016

ASPEN, Colo. (AP) - Officials in Aspen are considering a plan to allow wealthy donors to put their names on buildings and programs to help ease the budget crisis for public schools. But some school officials are worried about being embarrassed by some donors and said they would have to be checked out.

The Aspen Education Foundation said people who give $1 million or more could have the opportunity to do some kind of naming.

Brooke Bedingfield, executive director of the not-for-profit foundation, said the proposal could raise $15 million. “We’re interested in very large, seven-figure gifts in order to have the opportunity to do some kind of naming,” Bedingfield told the Aspen School District Board of Education.

Board member Sheila Wills expressed concern about selling naming rights and warned of a potential public backlash. “Right now, those belong to the taxpayers,” Wills said.

School officials said they are caught in a budget crisis because of Colorado has tax and spending limits that require voter approval for any tax increases, and there isn’t enough money available right now.

Board member Margeaux Johansson said that if the program is approved, donors would have to be vetted to ensure they had a good reputation.

“I think the time has come to look at this,” school board member Bob Glah said. “We have a sort of head-in-the-sand policy, which is prevalent across the United States.”

Glah said individual sponsors should be considered first, but corporate sponsorships might also be considered, the Aspen Daily News reported (http://tinyurl.com/zaq7pqt ).

Bedingfield said they’re looking for the type of person who “has five homes, including one in Aspen, and they’re looking for a project.”

“The individuals we have in mind are community members who are here part time and don’t have children or grandchildren in the system,” Bedingfield said.

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Information from: Aspen Daily News, http://www.aspendailynews.com

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