SMMUSD HDQTRS — The Education Foundation raised $3.2 million, falling $800,000 shy of the $4 million needed to fully fund the Vision for Student Success program, it was announced this week.

But the program may still be funded in full: Santa-Monica Malibu Unified School District Superintendent Sandra Lyon is recommending that the Board of Education allocate the funds to cover the difference at this week’s meeting.

In 2011, the board made the Ed Foundation the sole fundraising organization for the district and tasked them with raising the $4 million.

That money will be used to cover instructional coaches and assistants at every elementary school, smaller elementary school class sizes, professional development for every school, and discretionary funds for school-specific initiatives next school year.

The change to centralized funding went over poorly in some parts of the district, with parents complaining that the money they donated would not go directly to their children’s education. Some planned to stop donating cash and instead donate materials, which would not be redistributed throughout the district.

Others lauded the decision, saying that the change will even the playing field for some of the less wealthy areas.

The most the Ed Foundation has aimed to raise in the past is $500,000 so the jump to $3.2 million is a success, said Executive Director Linda Gross.

The recommendation from Lyon is an important one for this year, she said.

“Even though we’ve had months and months of planning and deliberating, nobody has gone through it yet,” she said. “Even though you say there’s going to be a literacy coach, what does that even look like? Who is that person going to be? How does it feel? You need to go through that to know the value of it.”

Half a million of the $3.2 million came from the Scott Family Charitable Fund last fall. Another $150,000 came from Dun & Bradstreet Credibility Corp. in December.

The Malibu schools lagged in total participation, Gross said. In terms of percentage of donors, the Malibu schools were in last place.

“With the exception of the Malibu schools, all of the other schools are in-line or above what they typically do with their fundraising every year,” she said.

Seth Jacobson, a former school board candidate from Malibu whose child attends Juan Cabrillo Elementary School where 8.8 percent of the parents donated, told the Daily Press last week that he personally met with the Ed Foundation and committed to host a fundraiser.

“At my elementary school, we have not been able to meet our yearly budget yet, in fact we sent out an emergency letter to our parents last week notifying them that we might not be able to pay for certain aides in classrooms after March,” he said. “How can we be expected to contribute to (Vision for Student Success), when we cannot even raise funds for our school?”

The Ed Foundation only measured how many parents donated at each school, Gross said, noting that the goal was participation rather than amount given. It’s possible that Malibu parents donated a higher percentage of cash than the participation numbers show.

At both Will Rogers Elementary School and Olympic High School, every parent made a donation, according to information provided by the Ed Foundation.

At Point Dume Marine Science Elementary School in Malibu, only six of 183 parents donated. An e-mail sent last week by the Daily Press to the Parent Teacher Association president at Point Dume was not returned.

Next year, Gross said, they will likely keep the expectations just as high because she expects that parents will have seen the value in the programs and staff.

Parents made up 42 percent of the total dollars raised. Community members made up another 37 percent. Businesses covered 12 percent of the total and foundations made up the remaining 9 percent.

Lyon’s recommendation makes clear that the board should only pick up the slack this time around but she praised the fundraising work by the Ed Foundation.

“It’s exciting to see the great strides our Education Foundation has made this past year and the support that our communities are putting behind the Vision for Student Success,” she said in a statement. “I’m confident that going forward, this community support will continue to grow.”

If not, she said in the agenda item, school officials will recommend reducing the program so that only funds raised by the Ed Foundation will be used to support it.

 

dave@smdp.com