News

PiE raises $2.9 million for Palo Alto schools

Announcement cheers board members trying to solve budget gap

Parent volunteers have raised a record-breaking $2.9 million to provide help to Palo Alto's 17 cash-strapped public schools, the foundation Partners in Education (PiE) announced Tuesday.

Bringing sunshine to an otherwise bleak day of budget talks, PiE President Lois Garland told the Board of Education that contributions had come from "across the community -- from parents to local businesses -- and represented a 13-percent increase over last year's donation."

"Even in tough economic times, we continue to be inspired by our community's commitment to educational excellence," Garland said.

Garland led school representatives and a 24-member board to raise the funds, primarily from parents.

The average donation per family was more than $750, a 5-percent increase over last year, PiE said.

Family participation was 56 percent at the elementary school level; 41 percent at the middle school level; and 31 percent in high schools, PiE said.

Garland said she was particularly gratified by a rise in contributions from residents who do not have children in the school district. That group contributed $130,000 to the total.

"These people don't have kids in the schools but they're still donating. They really care about the quality of education children receive here," she said.

PiE's result exceeded by $330,000 this year's goal of $2.57 million.

Funds will be targeted to priorities set last spring in conversations between PiE and school district officials.

The district's 12 elementary schools will receive $1.685 million for teacher aides, reading and math specialists, science-enrichment programs and arts.

The three middle schools will receive $530,000 for additional courses in video/digital production, creative writing, music and biotechnology. Funds also will go to student-support programs, academic guidance and technology mentors for teachers.

The two high schools will receive $685,000 for college and career counseling, additional courses in engineering, digital media, technology and performing arts, as well as for technology mentors.

Superintendent Kevin Skelly called PiE's support "indispensable" in helping to solve the district's budget problems.

"With this year's district budget cuts estimated at $3.7 million, our efforts to balance our budget have been extremely difficult," Skelly said.

"Support from parents and the community -- through contributing to PiE and through other revenue sources such as the parcel tax -- is indispensable in plugging the breach created by state funding cuts, slowing local revenues, and rising enrollment.

"Thanks to the generosity of PiE donors we expect the programs and staffing that PiE funds to continue in the year ahead with minimal impact. Through all our collective efforts, we are confident we can maintain -- and build upon -- the excellence of Palo Alto schools during this extraordinarily challenging time," Skelly said.

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Comments

Like this comment
Posted by Gunslinger
a resident of another community
on Feb 10, 2010 at 9:38 am

Cheers to you for getting these record breaking donations. That's how you should attain the money. No parcel tax


Like this comment
Posted by resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 10, 2010 at 10:33 am

Oh, really, resident of another community - that 's how we should do our schools? Public education is compulsory, yet paying for it should be voluntary? How did you get your education?


Like this comment
Posted by Ann
a resident of another community
on Feb 10, 2010 at 10:51 am

Homeowners forget that the value of their property is affected for the better by the presence of good neighborhood schools. Everyone in the area should have an interest in the quality of their schools.


Like this comment
Posted by Mandy Lowell
a resident of Crescent Park
on Feb 10, 2010 at 11:09 am

Terrific news.
I am heartened by contributions to PIE in this tough economic time, whether donors give because they value education of our youth, or to bolster the value of their homes.
To continue the quality of education that PAUSD schools for years have provided takes more funds than are currently provided by the State and property taxes.
PIE's donation is great for our teachers and students. My thanks to everyone who gave.


Like this comment
Posted by Education: A Palo Alto Priority
a resident of Greenmeadow
on Feb 10, 2010 at 11:28 am

I donated as much as I could afford to PiE, as a newer resident I pay much higher property tax than my neighbors who benefit more from Prop 13, and I plan to vote for continuing the parcel tax. Anyone who has taken a careful look at the district's budget knows that draconian cuts will be required if the parcel tax is not passed.

In fact, even if the parcel tax passes, the district will need to do serious belt tightening due to cuts from the state. Please have a look at the budget (PAUSD web site). Please join me in supporting continuation of the parcel tax.


Like this comment
Posted by all for one
a resident of Crescent Park
on Feb 10, 2010 at 12:51 pm

I agree. Happy to pay a parcel tax but voluntary contributions are affected by prop 13.


Like this comment
Posted by Gunslinger
a resident of another community
on Feb 10, 2010 at 1:02 pm

Ya, okay AstroTurf vocalists. Listen, just cause I'm not from right exactly where you are doesn't mean I'm not facing the same things. Indeed I am. I think the public education system is full of thieves, usurpers and traitors. Raise class sizes, lay off those whom I spoke of, and we'll be ahead fiscally. And no I don't believe that will affect the kids for the worse. No it won't effect our property values. What keeps property values high is good, safe, culturally homogenous communities. You could put a state of the art school in downtown Richmond and I ain't moving there, and I'm certainly not enrolling my kid in it. I would rather enroll my kid in a POS school in my community. Why? Cause it's safe and clean. Good people raise good kids, who want to learn, who are disciplined, and often intelligent. Thus our schools rise according to US- THE PARENTS!


Like this comment
Posted by OhlonePar
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Feb 10, 2010 at 1:24 pm

Gunslinger,

Richmond, in fact, used to have some good high schools. Proposition 13 was disastrous for districts like Richmond's. Once the money left schools like that, people who did care about their kid's education left too. It created a downward spiral for most California school districts. (Our state used to have one of the best systems in the country.)

We are now a state of haves and have-nots. Palo Alto continues to do well (and the housing prices reflect it) because we pay extra to keep our schools in shape.

You can say what you want--but history doesn't agree with you.

Why is is that we understand that you get what you pay for in the private sector, but think that this doesn't apply in the public sector?


Like this comment
Posted by Gunslinger
a resident of another community
on Feb 10, 2010 at 2:56 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


Like this comment
Posted by Aaron
a resident of Palo Alto Hills
on Feb 10, 2010 at 3:27 pm

"Proposition 13 was disastrous for districts like Richmond's."

If Richmond was filled up with new Asian immigrants, its schools would break academic records. It has little to do with Prop. 13, which allowed continued increases in the property tax take.

OP, despite my best efforts to educate you on education, you keep falling back on the "it's the money" excuse. I believe your heart is in the right place, but you fail to open your mind.

[Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


Like this comment
Posted by Taxes, taxes
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Feb 10, 2010 at 4:17 pm

"I donated as much as I could afford to PiE, as a newer resident I pay much higher property tax than my neighbors who benefit more from Prop 13"

I am glad you can afford all of it. What many people in your situation don't understand is that some us can't. We can barely pay our property taxes at our level.


Like this comment
Posted by fireman
a resident of another community
on Feb 11, 2010 at 7:31 am

Nanny Joe Simitian and Gov Arnold Schwarzenegger is this how you expect to pay for the future education of America?

I guess you think the public will cough up money for ever and that they all have enough to give and do not have their own bills to pay?


Like this comment
Posted by California Civics
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Feb 11, 2010 at 8:38 am

I believe "Serrano v Priest" has an effect comparable to Prop 13 on education funding in California

Feed "Serrano v Priest" into Google or Wikipedia.

Any discussion of funding, parcel taxes, PiE, bonds would be helped by understanding its effect.


Like this comment
Posted by Thank you!!
a resident of Meadow Park
on Feb 11, 2010 at 2:43 pm

thank you generous donors!!

yawn to trying to turn this into the same old, exhausted, "it is unfair prop 13" blah blah blah


Like this comment
Posted by Nora Charles
a resident of Stanford
on Feb 11, 2010 at 8:00 pm

Aaron, you are a brave soul. Bravo!


Like this comment
Posted by End of the baby boomers
a resident of Community Center
on Feb 12, 2010 at 8:37 am

Thank you to everyone that donated *anything* to PIE. The quality of teaching and caring in the Palo Alto School system is extraordinary. I had one special grade school teacher at the private elementary school I attended for 9 years in New York. In Palo Alto my child has had 2 out of 2 incredible teachers and a school support system that brings out the best citizens possible. The property taxes are hard but the educational and neighborhood experience above and beyond. This is such an amazing place to be.


Like this comment
Posted by Gunslinger
a resident of another community
on Feb 13, 2010 at 4:27 pm

That's a public school teacher talking


Like this comment
Posted by Below average donor
a resident of Midtown
on Feb 14, 2010 at 8:37 pm

Article states:

"The average donation per family was more than $750"

The article did a nice job of making the recommended donation ($660/family) appear suboptimal. I'd like to know what the median donation was for this dataset whose 'average' is heavily skewed by the donations of the ultra-wealthy, I am sure. I wonder what their money is buying...


Like this comment
Posted by palo alto mom
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Feb 15, 2010 at 9:57 am

Dear Below Average Donor -

Those "ultra-wealthy" donors' money is buying aides for your kids' classroom, art and science in the elementary schools, college counselors and engineering classes for your high school students, music teachers and other electives for your middle school students, etc.

We live in a very generous community. People give because they can and its the right thing to do. Many people without students in the schools give generously also - there is nothing they receive in return except thanks and a better school district. And ANY donation helps.


Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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