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Community Says Ye$$ to Our Kids
May 2009 | Piper Underwood, Rimini


From jog-a-thons to auctions, phone-a-thons to fiestas--PTAs, principals, parents, and staff have rallied to save their beloved Extended Studies Curriculum (art, science, music, technology and physical education) from district financial axes poised to lop them off their budget spending columns.

Fundraisers felt a particular urgency this year since after April 15, 2009, funds donated to the Del Mar Schools Education Foundation (DMSEF), the recognized fundraising arm of the Del Mar Unified School District (DMUSD), can no longer be earmarked for specific school sites. This means that after this date parents can no longer expect that the check they write to the foundation will go toward programs and subsequently teachers at their specific school.

Instead, DMUSD has decided from now on dollars donated to the DMSEF will be spread out over the whole district on a per student basis. While programs at each site will not all be the same for the 2009/2010 school year (site programs were determined by funding and educational priorities set by each school’s principal), they will be funded on an equitable, per student basis.

District Board members, under the leadership of Superintendent Sharon McClain, have cited other districts as having significantly more success with this district-wide, strategic fundraising model. Manhattan Beach School District and Palo Alto School Districts have been mentioned; however, comparisons to these districts are more like apples to oranges since they are K-12 and the DMUSD is K-6. Regardless, DMSEF representatives claim that while parents may be more reluctant to give on a district-wide basis (this remains to be seen), corporations are more inclined to do so (also to be determined).

At a Special Board Meeting of the Board of Trustees of the DMUSD on April 15, 2009, Matt Zevin, President of DMSEF, proudly announced that the combined fundraising goals for the district will exceed 1.6 million. In a hopeful, but realistic, projection Zevin felt comfortable in saying that all 8 school sites will hit their projected fundraising marks for the 2009/2010 school year.

While some schools hit their fundraising marks with relative ease, others were still accepting donations up to the April 15th, site-specific fundraising deadline. It was unclear if the schools, who had exceeded their fundraising goals, would be contributing to offset those schools that had come up short.

How do these contributions translate to programs and teachers? An estimated 30+ teacher’s jobs will be saved as a result of fundraiser’s efforts. This is no small accomplishment considering the 52 pink slips doled out in March.

It seems that attaching a monetary contribution to a beloved program, or better yet, a beloved teacher, plucks at the emotional purse strings of many parents. Will this still be the case when donations go district-wide?


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