A group of girls play a game of duck-duck-goose at the Save Our Schools finale celebration at Santa Monica High School on Sunday. The fundraising effort generated over $1.3 million for local public schools. (photo by Byron Kennerly)

CITY HALL — Donors to the two-month long “Save Our Schools” fundraising drive contributed more than $1.5 million to the Santa Monica-Malibu Education Foundation — an amount leaders of the effort said could save 18 teaching positions this school year.

After laying off 58 teachers this spring as part of $7.1 million worth of budget cuts, the school board is scheduled to meet on Wednesday to decide how many positions can be re-filled thanks to the donations.

Contributions to the SOS campaign were earmarked for one of three “buckets,” with $655,000 donated to relieve elementary class sizes, $332,000 donated to relieve secondary class sizes and to hire counselors, and $397,000 donated to fund music programs and to pay for school libraries.

The balance of the donations were un-designated, giving the school board discretion over how to spend the money.

“Our community has demonstrated time after time that it cares about maintaining the quality of our local public schools. This summer it has rallied to do just that,” said Santa Monica-Malibu Council of PTAs President Shari Davis.

The committee in charge of the fundraising drive consisted of more than 100 volunteers. More than 1,000 people participated in the campaign, which brought in donations from more than 2,000 contributors, including businesses, foundations, community members and parents.

“The success of Save Our Schools breaks a number of records for the Santa Monica-Malibu Education Foundation,” said Linda Gross, the foundation’ executive director. “Not only is this the largest dollar amount that we have raised in such a tight time frame, but this campaign has seen more volunteer and community participation than any previous campaign in our history.”

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