CITY HALL — The Santa Monica-Malibu Education Foundation got a much-needed injection of cash from the City Council Tuesday night to support its new role as the main fundraiser for programs in the local school district.

The City Council voted unanimously to release $250,000 it has been holding for the Education Foundation since 2001 to help support its efforts at districtwide fundraising.

The money is the second of two equal installments. The first was doled out in 2001 to spur fundraising to support arts programs in the district.

The remainder was contingent on the Education Foundation raising $5 million for its endowment for music and arts.

Of that amount, it’s only successfully raised half, said City Hall Finance Director Gigi Decavalles-Hughes.

According to the staff report, the Education Foundation will have to raise $4 million every year to support programs through districtwide fundraising.

“Recent events like the economic downturn and the foundation’s new role in districtwide fundraising required us to revisit the 11-year-old pledge,” she said.

Council members felt that given the difficult economic climate and the new challenge facing the foundation, its failure to reach the $5 million goal could be forgiven.

“I think that it’s completely appropriate that we repurpose this money,” said Mayor Richard Bloom.

The money will be used to help fund education, arts, academic and athletic programs at all of the public schools and support the foundation’s work by hiring additional staff to get ready for its expanded fundraising role, according to a release by the Education Foundation Thursday.

“We are very grateful to the city of Santa Monica for this contribution and for its long-standing commitment to supporting the Ed Foundation’s work on behalf of all students,” said Linda Greenberg Gross, executive director of the SMMEF, in the release.

The foundation’s new role comes from a policy set down by the Board of Education in November 2011 that restricts fundraising at school sites in an attempt to promote equity of programming between the campuses in the district.

Previously, parent organizations raised money to hire staff, send children on field trips and buy materials to augment their children’s education.

Officials felt that this created a disparity in education in the public school setting that gave an advantage to students in wealthier neighborhoods.

The policy was opposed by many in the community that felt they should be able to give directly to their children’s schools and also doubted the ability of the Education Foundation to meet the ambitious new fundraising goals.

Traditionally, the foundation has only raised approximately $400,000 per year to support programs in the district.

A group convened by Superintendent Sandra Lyon is expected to present a plan to the board in June about how the policy will work.

ashley@www.smdp.com

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