Pleasanton Weekly

News - March 5, 2010

School fundraising efforts planned

PUSD hoping to save programs with outside revenue

by Emily West

Pleasanton schools saw $11 million in cuts in the current year and is projecting about $8 million in cuts for the 2010-11 school year. Despite concessions from teachers and management, totaling just over $4.8 million, Pleasanton Unified School District is still looking for alternative revenue sources to save programs.

In order to identify the priorities of parents at each grade level, the district put out surveys asking how they would be impacted if particular programs or positions were not funded in the next year.

Responses from about 1,780 parents showed the highest priorities were science, physical education and class-size reduction. About 580 middle school parents favored athletics, extracurriculars and site funds, while about 740 high school parents favored athletics, extracurriculars, counseling, site funds and seven periods.

The survey was created before the contract agreement was made, which ended up funding current class-size reduction levels, elementary PE, science and vocal music specialists, elementary reading specialists, current counseling levels and restoring the Barton reading program.

At the board's special budget workshop meeting Tuesday evening, they decided to move forward with a fundraising campaign that would be a joint effort by PUSD, Pleasanton Partnerships in Education (PPIE) and parents. After a meeting with these groups as well as school principals, they have come up with an initial goal of items to fund at each level.

In order to keep things fair between the sites, the board discussed the idea of an equitable base that all schools would need to reach before funding extras.

While details are still being discussed between parties, the district said they plan to send out a single letter to parents outlining the goals and needs of the district. There is also the possibility for a fundraising event.

Last year, the summer I Love Pleasanton Schools fundraiser sought to raise $2.8 million after the parcel tax Measure G failed. While the effort fell short of its goal, they raised $463,379 and put it towards counselors, elementary strings and band, and reading specialists.

As for another source of income, parent Barbara Kirk is heading up the committee to research for another possible try at a parcel tax. The next stop is holding a privately-funded information gathering workshop today. Not open to the public, the goal is to learn from Wise Campaigns -- a group from San Ramon who has experience passing the parcel tax there -- and learn what it would take to pass a parcel tax and is it something that can be agreed upon.

While it's not planned to be a part of the upcoming November election, Kirk said the issue will probably carry into next year.

"It will take the community to support and get behind it," she said. "The schools really need the help right now. The numbers could still change. It's something that should be on everyone's mind moving forward in next year or so."

Outlined fundraising goals

Elementary school level

* Four hours technology specialist per day, per site -- $202,500

* Five hours library assistant per day, per site (2 hours district-funded, 3 donation-funded) -- $152,000

* Student support programs (determined by each school) -- open

Middle school level

* Four hours technology specialist per day, per site -- $67,500

* Support for technology (purchase of hardware and software) -- open

* Six hours library assistant per day, per site (3.5 hours district-funded, 2.5 donation-funded) -- $42,188

* Student support programs (determined by each school) -- open

High school level

* Support for technology (purchase of hardware and software) -- open

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