Parent volunteers were the heroes of the hour Tuesday when they presented Palo Alto school trustees with a check for $2.57 million -- a goal achieved in an "emergency mode" last-minute push despite the economic downturn.
The money comes as the result of this year's fundraising by Partners in Education (PiE), a non-profit foundation dedicated to supporting Palo Alto public schools. The group appeals to parents as well as to local businesses and residents who do not have school-age children to support the schools.
"Thousands of people made this happen," PiE board President Lois Garland, who has children at Palo Alto High School and Addison Elementary School, told the trustees.
PiE set this year's goal at $2.57 million – $1.5 million for elementary schools, $470,000 for middle schools and $600,000 for high schools.
Just three weeks before the deadline the group remained $600,000 short, Garland recounted. She said PiE volunteers went into emergency mode, using sandwich boards, secured matching funds from major donors and engaged school principals in their efforts.
"I'm blown away that in this economic environment our community would step up to that level," Superintendent Kevin Skelly said. "It's a statement about how much our community believes in education."
"Getting $2.57 million from PiE this evening is a big relief," Co-Chief Business Officer Cathy Mak said of the gift, as she was explaining the local impact of likely state budget cuts to school board members.
PiE last year raised $2.3 million for Palo Alto schools, as well as $100,000 for grants to teachers. Those funds represented a 9.2 percent increase over the previous year.