News

PiE aims to raise $3.9 million for schools

Goal is most ambitious yet for foundation benefiting Palo Alto public schools

The foundation benefiting Palo Alto public schools aims to raise $3.9 million from community members in 2011-12 -- the most ambitious goal in its six-year history.

Palo Alto Partners in Education(PiE) raises the money in appeals to parents through schools, as well as in requests to philanthropists and local business.

A "Back-to-School Challenge Grant" of $200,000 will double any gift made between now and Sept. 16, PiE said.

Last year the organization, run largely by parents, donated $3.4 million to the school district -- about 2 percent of the district's operating budget.

The donation supported classroom aides, arts and science in the elementary schools; counselors, electives and mentors in the middle schools; and counselors, guidance and electives in the high schools, PiE said. The group also supports grants to individual teachers, awarding $68,000 to 22 teachers in the fall of 2010.

"California is currently ranked 47th out of 50 states in funding per student so, unfortunately, public financing in our state is not sufficient to support high quality education," PiE President Elaine Hahn said.

"In this economic environment, the PiE education foundation is a necessity, not a luxury, to preserve an outstanding education for our children."

Nearly 80 percent of PiE donations come from families in the district, but the foundation also reaches out to other community members and businesses. In 2010, the foundation said its average donation per family with children in the district was more than $750.

"Donations to our schools via the PiE education foundation fill many gaps and keep our schools well rounded and competitive," Superintendent Kevin Skelly said.

"Every student in the district benefits from PiE dollars, which are allocated on a per-student basis to provide equitable funding at each school."

Palo Alto educates more than 12,000 students in 12 elementary schools, three middle schools and two high schools. A thirteenth elementary campus houses the district's pre-school and Young Fives Program, and two classrooms inside Lucile Packard Children's Hospital offers a program for kids in the hospital.

PiE was created in 2005 through a merger of the Palo Alto Foundation for Education and the All Schools Fund. The following year it donated $1.89 million to the district, and the donation amount has increased each year ever since.

Chris Kenrick

Comments

Like this comment
Posted by transparency
a resident of Crescent Park
on Sep 1, 2011 at 8:45 am

With PiE salaries of over $100,000 you know where your donation goes!


Like this comment
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Sep 1, 2011 at 8:54 am

Once again, there is the assumption that Palo Altans have endless supplies of cash waiting to donate. There is a recession, there are increases in all our necessities to live here eg utilities, library bond on our property tax, etc. etc.

This expected increase is sadly an unjustified pipedream.


Like this comment
Posted by Why so grumpy?
a resident of Meadow Park
on Sep 1, 2011 at 9:22 am

Why are the folks on here so grumpy? PIE spent a total of $277K on all operating expenses (salary, rent, printing, mailing, events, etc., etc.), according to their annual report. That's 7% of the $3.8M they raised. That's pretty good in the small non-profit world (or any world). There is, or used to be anyway, 1 full time employee, the executive director. Her salary may well be >$100K, but that seems pretty reasonable given what they get done and the cost of good people around here.

Good luck with the fundraising!


Like this comment
Posted by transparency
a resident of Crescent Park
on Sep 1, 2011 at 12:09 pm

Why so grumpy? Because the school's PTA didn't spend anything on salaries and manages to raise funds in the small non-profit world.
If you want to line people's pockets, go ahead and donate to PiE. If you want ALL your money to go to the schools, send your donation to the PTA instead.


Like this comment
Posted by where have you been?
a resident of Barron Park
on Sep 1, 2011 at 5:20 pm

The PTAs cannot pay for school staff. PiE dollars can, and are the only way to supplement staff across the district. Granted the PTAs do not have an executive director, but they do have expenses - which are spread out over the 17 schools. And PiE pays a professional auditor to ensure transparency to the community. That's money well spent.


Like this comment
Posted by transparency
a resident of Crescent Park
on Sep 1, 2011 at 6:48 pm

I'm not questioning expenses, it's the salaries that are appalling!
The "only PiE can pay staff" rule is a farce. PTAs could pay costs and free up district funds for staff - they do in any case but received nothing back from the district for it. The rule is only there to protect PiE.
And PTAs can do that without paying an executive director $100,000 a year from the donations of parents not earning anywhere near that. Yeah, sure, double your donation by paying it early - or donate nothing until PiE's paid itself $100,000. Great work PiE!


Like this comment
Posted by parent
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 1, 2011 at 7:42 pm

Transparency...People could explain PiE to you until they are blue in the face but I'm pretty sure you don't want to know the truth. The director of PiE works incredibly hard and frankly isn't paid enough for all she does. Take a look at commensurate salaries for non profits in this area. PTAs don't raise any where near the amount PiE does. PiE is a professional organization. The rules are different when you raise that amount of money as opposed to the amounts the PTAs raise. Get informed.


Like this comment
Posted by transparency
a resident of Crescent Park
on Sep 1, 2011 at 9:07 pm

"PTAs don't raise any where near the amount PiE does"

What?!!
7 Elementary PTAs @~110K
3 Middles PTAs @~250k
2 High PTAs @~200k

So, without paying anyone, the PTAs are making ~$2,000,000 a year. The PTAs even stop raising funds because they can't spend it all because of PiE monopoly on staff.
All that without paying an "executive director" $100,000 by simply VOLUNTEERING their time.
Seriously, a lot of the parents donating don't even make $100,000 a year!


Like this comment
Posted by Why so grumpy?
a resident of Meadow Park
on Sep 1, 2011 at 9:35 pm

PIE was set up for central fundraising so that funds would be spread equitably across the district. You may disagree, but the district (and most districts in my experience) insist that schools can't raise money for their own staff. I suppose the PTA's could arrange to pool money and then allocate it (keeping track of it all) - but then they might need a paid staff member ;-) PIE also solicits major gifts, corporate gifts, and special campaigns (like real estate agents), which the PTAs could also do (though they might need, umm, paid staff).

Hey, if you don't like PIE then don't give - no problem! But I think running PIE down because they have a paid staff person is unreasonable.


Like this comment
Posted by transparency
a resident of Crescent Park
on Sep 2, 2011 at 7:32 am

"PIE was set up for central fundraising so that funds would be spread equitably across the district."
Yes! It was not set up to spend $100,000 on a single salary. If that had been in the original charter do you really believe it would have got off the ground?

"(though they might need, umm, paid staff)".
Or not. Look at the figures the PTAs seem to raise considerable sums without that. Amazing, huh?

Why so grumpy, you can hear the disdain the PiE supporters hold the PTAs - just look at parent's post above. It' a bit of a joke when they call PiE a "professional organization" and then mock PTAs fundraising. Drop PTA support from PiE and PiE wouldn't even break even. A bit sad really.


Like this comment
Posted by parent
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 2, 2011 at 11:21 am

There was no sneering about PTA in the above post. Take a look at who is on the PiE board and at least the ones I know are equally involved in their PTAs. We need both organizations raising funds for our schools. As I said before, if an individual PTA raised as much money at PiE the rules and regulations go through the roof and you would need to hire someone to do all the work.


Like this comment
Posted by Worth Every Penny
a resident of Ohlone School
on Sep 2, 2011 at 11:47 am

Donating to PiE is worth every penny.
Keeps our schools well-rounded and supports property values.

$800/year is nothing compared to the $1,300/month we were paying for pre-school.
And it's nothing compared to the $1,400/month you'd be paying for private school.

Great public education is not free.


Like this comment
Posted by resident
a resident of Fairmeadow
on Sep 2, 2011 at 11:56 am

$800 IS sth when it's on top of $15,000 property tax. We are not rich people. We both work to make ends meet. We already pay a lot to go to PA schools.


Like this comment
Posted by Why so grumpy?
a resident of Meadow Park
on Sep 2, 2011 at 12:13 pm

Actually, I think PIE *was* set up with the intention of a $100K salary. If memory serves, tinitial Executive Director (no longer there) was pretty key in the formation, and I believe from the start was paid $100K. So I don't think it was something later foisted on an unsuspecting public by someone trying to feather her nest or a lazy board; I think it was always thus.

I think there is a point that PIE does have a bit of an internal image that what they do is perhaps more important and more professional than the PTAs. The board is a bit of a super-mom's club. But at the end of the day they do a good job raising more money than otherwise would be raised and the expense ratio seems reasonable. I like the school PTAs too (I've been an officer more than once) but that's not a reason to run down PIE.


Like this comment
Posted by Moira
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 2, 2011 at 1:41 pm

PIE was set up because different Palo Alto schools (primarily at the elementary level) were paying for different things on an individual school basis (some schools had more staff hours and "extras") because donations varied from school to school. In a fairly small town and a public school system, you need to have equal opportunities for all students in terms of aide hours, art staff and other perks. So there shouldn't be an argument about why PIE exists. The individual PTAs aren't allowed to or set up to be the funding for all the extra staff that PAUSD employs. So don't pretend when you say you will only donate to your local PTA that you're helping to pay for the benefits your child is getting from aides, art teachers, etc.

However, I find it sad that PIE never really shows how few parents pay for the cost of their individual kid. They talk about "participation" as if giving $25 when your kid is getting $500 in benefits is fair. And no, I am not talking about low-income parents who can't afford more. I'm talking about parents who want to be in this district for the schools and let others pay their way because they just don't "feel" like writing a check when they are able to financially. If it weren't for the realtors and some big donors, the target amount would not be reached.

This is a larger issue of how our state now has to run its school system. Wealthy areas like Palo Alto, Los Gatos and Saratoga keep the classes small, have aides, etc because they're funded by donors, like a private school would be. Other school districts have bigger classes and no aides because those parents can't afford a big endowment system like PIE. It is no way to fund what used to be a top state public school system.


Like this comment
Posted by transparency
a resident of Crescent Park
on Sep 2, 2011 at 2:11 pm

Resident, you're just guessing what the "Executive Director" does for her $100,000. You don't need to hire an "Executive Director" for regulations; that's why PiE has VOLUNTEER treasurer/secretary/auditor/... positions.
To sneer at the mere $2,000,000 raised annually by the PTAs does belittle their effort.

If the $100k is so wisely spent, why not call it out instead of burying it under the "Development" and referencing "Staff"? Be honest and note that the first $100k donated is given to a single person.

"I find it sad that PIE never really shows how few parents pay for the cost of their individual kid. "
Moira, PiE does publish a list of who donated and how much. So if you gave less than $100, everyone gets to see it. Nice work, PiE, very classy!


Like this comment
Posted by Dreading
a resident of College Terrace
on Sep 2, 2011 at 10:32 pm

I am dreading the PiE reps this year. I am out of a job and we are barely managing to make ends meet. PiE reps "know" who has donated and who has not donated .. they start sending targeted emails after a point ..

PiE folks - please understand . there are many out here who aren't making 100K .. they are not making even 1K in this economy. Please be sensitive when you start sending the targeted emails ..


Like this comment
Posted by Mark Weiss
a resident of Barron Park
on Sep 3, 2011 at 8:24 am

How about a benefit event, for PIE at The Varsity Theatre? I recall that Dar Williams, whose nephews attend PAUSD schools, did a benefit for Barron Park Elem at Paly's Haymarket a couple years back. She is at the Fillmore last week, let's go ask her.


Like this comment
Posted by Mac Clayton
a resident of Community Center
on Sep 3, 2011 at 8:39 am

There's a contrariness in online comments that is hard to understand. If a bicyclist is killed by a car, someone wants to know if the coroner will be performing alcohol tests on the body. Take a look a the PiE website (papie.org), at the faces of the many, many talented people who volunteer their time to help our children. I, for one, am deeply grateful to them.


Like this comment
Posted by JSD
a resident of Palo Verde
on Sep 3, 2011 at 9:48 am

Dreading,

No need for dread - a pro-active statement (in person or via email) to your PiE reps would help. Something like: "While we support and appreciate the work that PiE does, we are unable to contribute this year." (Or, "we are only able to contribute X-amount this year.")

Any good rep will appreciate and respect that. (I'm not a PiE rep or volunteer - we have great ones at our school.)


Like this comment
Posted by palo alto mom
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Sep 3, 2011 at 11:15 am

The PiE Executive Director works incredibly hard, including coordinating the many wonderful PiE volunteers. Why so grumpy - PiE did not get "set up" with a Director at all. It started as an ALL volunteer group with the President doing way too much work for a volunteer job (The same can be said of many PTA Presidents, especially at the elementary level, it is a LOT of work!)

$100,000 is $8 per student.
Menlo Park spend 12% of the Education Foundation on overhead, we spend 7%.
PiE benefits EVERY student in the District.

To Transparency - I don't know where you get your numbers for the PTA. Each middle school does not raise $250,000. Jordan raised more than the other 2 middle schools combined - $230,000. Terman raised $100,000 and JLS $120,000. (JLS and Jordan are about the same size). Paly raised $257,000 vs Gunn's PTSA income of $116,000. The disparity in these numbers is exactly why PiE is needed to level the playing field for staffing. What Moira was trying to say is that every child in PAUSD benefits from PiE - whether their parents donate nothing or $100,000. PiE will not publish your donation amount in the annual report if you ask it to be anonymous. And since their goal is fundraising, it is very common practice to publish donation amounts.


Like this comment
Posted by Moira
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 3, 2011 at 1:25 pm

Palo Alto Mom made some very clear and valid points. PIE only publishes the names of those who want to be on a donor list, many do not. There is no public way of showing who has or hasn't donated, which frankly, is why so many ignore PIE requests and happily accept the benefits. Again, I'm not talking about financially strapped people, I was raised by a widowed mom without much money and understand what struggling means.

The point is, which keeps getting side-tracked, people expect PAUSD to have aides, extra science and art projects, but ignore their responsibility to pay for them (and most can afford it). I would guess that less than 50% of parents pay the individual amount their child costs PAUSD and that to me is the shame of this system of funding. It should be a bill sent to each student's house, they pay it or not, but at least they know it's not an abstract amount. Am not criticizing PIE when they put up those posters like "75% Participation" because they're trying to fundraise, but is it 75% gave $25 or 75% gave $500 or whatever the true cost is?


Like this comment
Posted by Why so grumpy?
a resident of Meadow Park
on Sep 3, 2011 at 1:26 pm

@pa mom - I stand corrected! PIE came into being in Aug 2005 and the first ED was hired in June 2006. Of course there were predecessor organizations, that I believe were volunteer run. So there was a period (though less than a year) when there was no ED.


Like this comment
Posted by palo alto mom
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Sep 3, 2011 at 2:30 pm

PiE (with a different name) was actually started in 2003 when the BOE decided to eliminate the ability of PTA's to pay for staff. It ran as an all volunteer group for a number of years. The name was changed when the All School Fund merged with PAFE (the group that did the teacher grants for years).


Like this comment
Posted by Why so grumpy?
a resident of Meadow Park
on Sep 3, 2011 at 5:29 pm

@pa mom - I have learned my lesson - don't try to argue with a super-mom ;-) PIE came into being in 2005, but of course there were two predecessor organizations.


Like this comment
Posted by Mom
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 14, 2011 at 6:29 pm

Donations by elementary school population are still very unequal, but that data is no longer public thanks to PIE. Ask an insider and they will admit that some parent populations give a lot and some give very little...PIE exists to redistribute the money.
PAUSD put in this system in, along with the "stuff/staff" rules, and PAUSD has the power to make it fair again.


Like this comment
Posted by donation inflation
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Sep 15, 2011 at 12:26 pm

PiE has increased the amount it raised each year over year by increasing the ask each year. This year the ask is $800.


Like this comment
Posted by palo alto mom
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Sep 15, 2011 at 5:09 pm

PiE's requested amount compared to local districts is the lowest:

PAUSD Donation Request - $800/child
San Carlos: $1,000/child
Mtn. View High School: $1,000/child
Los Altos: $1,200 per child
Menlo Park: $1,500 per child
Las Lomitas: $2,000 per child

Mom of Old Palo Alto - please explain what PAUSD needs to "make fair".


Like this comment
Posted by donation inflation
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Sep 15, 2011 at 9:04 pm

PiE's ask 3 years ago was $500.
For full disclosure, compare the Property Tax each of the districts get compared to Palo Alto.


Like this comment
Posted by Me Too
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 15, 2011 at 9:59 pm

@inflation - I hope that you give what you feel comfortable with. Not sure what you are complaining about or why you think asking for more is wrong or inappropriate. Personally I like what the money goes for and am happy to give more.


Like this comment
Posted by donation inflation
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Sep 16, 2011 at 8:52 am

When's it going to stop increasing?


Like this comment
Posted by donation inflation
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Sep 16, 2011 at 8:57 am

60% increase after three years. $3,500 per child before they leave the district?!


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

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