For years, schools have relied upon affiliated groups to help with field trips, bake sales and new uniforms. But the ongoing budget crisis has one school foundation drumming up cash to save jobs and programs at its district.
Earlier this week, the La Canada Flintridge Educational Foundation held a town hall meeting to ask parents for $2,500 a year to make up for the nearly $5 million La Canada Unified is expected to lose due to state spending cuts.
La Canada school board member Scott Tracy told the La Canada Valley Sun, a website of the LA Times, that the appeal was necessary in part because the district's wealthy economic status ultimately prevents them from qualifying for many federal and state grants.
“The thought that higher property value communities get more funding – that just isn’t true,” Tracy said. “The most impoverished and lowest-performing districts get the most money, and that is not La Canada’s profile.”
By law, California schools must provide a free education and cannot require payment as a prerequisite to participation in classes and extra-curricular activities.
But schools are free to ask for donations. And the La Canada foundation is trying to drum up support in a manner that may catch on.
La Canada has been able to avoid massive layoffs and furloughs due to past donations and other fundraising efforts. But declining student enrollment and other funding cuts have the foundation seeking to spread the message that more financial help from parents is needed.
"The parents who are involved will always be involved," La Canada parent Jennifer Herzer told the Valley Sun. "But if new people hear this message, that’s great.”