Cupertino parents raise $1 million to save teacher jobs

Money raised in 25 days towards education association's goal of $3 million

In an effort similar to Pleasanton's Community OutReach for Education campaign, a group of Cupertino parents yesterday announced they have raised $1 million of their $3 million goal to save the jobs of 107 teachers in the Cupertino Union School District.

The Cupertino parents are members of a Cupertino-based campaign called Their Future Is Now and, working in conjunction with the Cupertino Educational Endowment Foundation, they raised $1 million in 25 days, Dave Villafana, president of the Cupertino Education Association, said.

"I am so grateful that the parents have stepped up," Villafana said. "It really shows you the commitment they have to the quality of education that we deliver in Cupertino."

The announcement was made this afternoon at Christa McAuliffe Elementary in Saratoga. Some of the 107 teachers who received pink slips at the end of February and in early March were on hand at the news conference to express their appreciation, Villafana said.

The 18,000-student district, which serves families in Cupertino, Sunnyvale, San Jose, Los Altos and Saratoga, faces a $7.3 million deficit in the upcoming fiscal year due to $17 billion in education cuts across the state in the past two years.

The K-8 district, which ranks ninth-highest in test scores out of the state's 1,000 school districts, has had to eliminate smaller class sizes at the K-3 level, slash school librarian hours and intends to lay off support staff, Villafana said.

All school personnel will decide next week on a proposal to take five furlough days equating to a 2.5 percent salary cut, saving the district about $2.5 million, Villafana said.

The $1 million raised will go directly to the district to save the jobs of 107 teachers and thereby maintain the 20-to-one class size ratio at schools in the district, Villafana said. To balance its budget, the district had proposed bumping the average class size to a 30-to-one ratio in the upcoming school year.

The parents raised the money by calling on the support of fellow parents, and teachers, as well as the business and local community. They hope to raise an additional $2 million before final layoff decisions are made by May 15, Villafana said.

A community day will be held on May 4 where about 50 businesses in Cupertino, Sunnyvale, San Jose, Los Altos and Saratoga have committed to donating their proceeds to the cause, Villafana said.

Khalida Sarwari, Bay City News

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