For two years now, the district has been cobbling together the best it can to preserve as many programs and opportunities for its students and families. Class sizes at the kindergarten through third-grade levels and for freshmen-level high school English and math moved from 20:1 to 25:1 this year. The 2010-11 budget for now maintains those levels. Counseling staffs and high school vice principals also are spared any cuts in the coming year, thanks largely to $4.8 million in salary cuts agreed to by district management and the Association of Pleasanton Teachers, the teachers union. Last Monday, the school district's classified workers union, representing salaries and hourly employees, agreed to forfeit another $300,000 to help the district meet its budget obligations. Still, more is needed.
Now, a new fundraising effort called CORE (Community OutReach for Education) has launched a two-month-long campaign to raise $900,000 through $150 donations from parents of every student in the district. Sponsored by the Pleasanton Partnerships in Education (PPIE) Foundation, the PTA Council, all school site parent groups, and the school district, the funds will allow the district to continue supporting on-site technology specialists, library assistants and longer library hours and school site discretionary funding for student support. The overall fundraising goal is $399,375 for elementary schools, $229,689 for middle schools and $325,000 for high schools. CORE has already raised $130,000 in its early campaigning.
Casey said the new fundraising effort will kick off in earnest next Thursday with a "Drop and Donate" campaign at every school, where parents will be asked to give their $150 checks made out to CORE to volunteers at curbside when they take their students to school. Don't worry, Casey added, if anyone leaves their checkbook at home, the volunteers will be there after school for the Drop and Donate campaign. A similar effort is planned for May 27, the last day of school before the Memorial Day weekend that includes teacher furlough-no school days on Friday, May 28 and Tuesday, June 1. The organizations will take a snapshot of how much their campaign raised on June 1, which will determine how many of the specialists and programs can be put back into the budget for the 2010-11 school year.
As Casey pointed out to the Chamber group, school district budgeting is being done one year at a time during the economic downturn and state budget crisis that has diminished public school funding. The least we can do is drop and donate next Thursday at our local schools. The $150, which is tax deductible, can also be donated to CORE directly at the school district headquarters or to PPIE, where more information can be found on its website at www.ppie.org.