SMMUSD HDQTRS — The defeat last month of Measure A, the proposed parcel tax that would have generated $5.7 million per year for local public schools but failed to garner the required two-thirds support from voters, has parents and other school boosters scrambling to help out.
More than 150 supporters have been attending meetings and forming fundraising committees in the past two weeks, aiming to raise enough money to at least blunt the effect of cuts already approved by the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District Board of Education.
Now, even kids are pitching in.
Franklin Elementary School first-grader Ezra Krieger and a group of friends set up a lemonade stand on Saturday to benefit the district. Their first day’s haul: $250, thanks to customers’ enthusiastic overspending. Ezra’s mother, Jennifer Krieger, said some cookies the kids sold went for $20.
Spurred on by the success, Krieger is encouraging others to follow suit and expects dozens of stands to crop up this weekend on behalf of the Santa Monica Malibu Education Foundation, the organization that is spearheading the effort to pay teachers’ salaries next school year with private donations.
“It was just a matter of watching our kids’ excitement and watching our customers’ generosity,” Krieger said.
While every contribution helps, Linda Gross, executive director of the education foundation, said the short timetable to raise money before next fall means the organization is mainly asking for gifts, rather than staging events to raise money. In order to affect staffing levels next school year, donations must be received by Aug. 15.
“The timeline being so short, it’s really about direct solicitation,” Gross said.
Committees to solicit donations from parents, alumni, and potential corporate contributors have been set up, Gross said, and other volunteers are working on publicity for the campaign, including a promotional video.
The foundation has a lofty goal of raising $4.87 million, the amount it needs to restore laid-off teachers, counselors and librarians to the district’s payroll. It’s nowhere near that figure yet, but two weeks into the effort, school district supporters have already paid up.
By Tuesday, the foundation had collected $163,441 in donations — $83,441 from individual contributors and the rest from four Parent Teacher Associations and the Malibu Special Education Foundation, Gross said.
“There is a lot of passion out there,” Gross said. “There’s an understanding that the only way we’re going to accomplish this is if we do it together.”
Even if the foundation reaches that goal, Gross said leaders of the effort are mindful that fundraising isn’t a long-term solution to the district’s budget problems, which are due mainly to a big decrease in state education spending caused by a drop-off in tax revenue.
Meanwhile, on Tuesday the school district committee that assessed the feasibility of passing Measure A was planning to reconvene to analyze the campaign’s outcome and to consider recommending a possible future funding measure.
Measure A, which would have assessed an additional $198 annual per parcel tax on property owners for five years, received 64.25 percent of the vote in last month’s mail-in election.