It’s become an annual tradition: the La Cañada Educational Foundation delivering a huge check to its city’s school district.
At Tuesday’s La Cañada Unified School District Governing Board meeting, LCFEF officials and students handed over a large presentation check, this one worth $2 million. It marks the sixth consecutive year that the foundation has raised $2 million or more to donate to the district to help pay for teachers and counselors, among many other things.
“We’re very, very grateful to them,” Superintendent Wendy Sinnette said.
Board President David Sagal, who previously served as LCFEF’s director, said seeing first-hand how the organization enhances the lives of the district’s children makes him appreciate the donation more.
“LCUSD would not be the school district it is today without the educational foundation,” he said, noting that the funds allow the district to maintain optimum class sizes, “which allows our teachers to provide the highest level of instruction.”
Sagal said $911,000 of LCFEF’s contribution for 2016-17 — raised, in part, at events such as an annual gala or a wine auction — went to fund teacher salaries. He said $521,000 went to pay for guidance and college counselors at La Cañada High School.
Another $223,000 went to music, art and drama programs at the elementary schools, $237,000 went to fund technology and $57,000 was dedicated to course offerings at LCHS 7/8, including classes focused on computer coding, math and science.
LCFEF also has introduced an endowment that has grown to $5.7 million, LCFEF Director Marilyn Yang said.
“A great deal of time and effort is put into providing the district with a permanent source of funding,” Sagal said. “All to achieve a common goal: the success of our schools.”
LCUSD board members officially and unanimously announced their support for Propositions 51 and 55.
Prop. 51 will generate $7 billion in bond revenue for K-12 education, with $3 billion allocated to new construction and another $3 billion for modernization throughout the state. Another $1 billion is to be split between charter schools and Career Technical Education facilities. Most of those funds are to be matched with local money.
As it launches on a Facilities Master Planning process, LCUSD has an avid interest in the availability of those state funds.
The board was equally enthusiastic about Prop. 55, which will extend the income tax provisions of Prop. 30 through 2030 in an effort to ensure the several billion dollars of education funding cut during the Great Recession are preserved.
If Prop. 30 is allowed to sunset in 2018, California schools would face falling to recession-level funding in the next three to five years, according to the district’s staff report. LCUSD Chief Financial Officer Mark Evans estimated that the district can expect to lose about $3-$5 million in revenue if the proposition doesn’t pass.
“We want to reiterate, this is not new money,” board member Ellen Multari said. “It’s a continuation of monies that we’ve been receiving as a result of the passage of Prop. 30.”
The LCHS Alumni Association recently received its largest donation to date — $20,000 from Wendy Warren. A member of the class of 1976, she is now a school board president in Woodside, Calif., according to LCUSD board member Brent Kuszyk. Warren also donated $5,000 when the alumni association initially reached out during last year’s Spartan Spirit Campaign.
“We’re really thrilled,” said Kuszyk, adding that the alumni group has received donations from former Spartans in 10 states so far. “I think so many of our graduates feel fortunate enough to have attended our outstanding schools and are more than happy to give back.”