Parents launch annual PiE 'Donation Days'

Families offer dollar-for-dollar matches of up to $250,000 for Nov. 9-18 contributions

Parent volunteers will be out in force from now through Nov. 18, drumming up donations for Palo Alto Partners in Education (PiE), an independent foundation benefiting Palo Alto public schools.

This year's PiE fundraising goal is $3.9 million, the highest ever.

Several families have teamed up to offer a dollar-for-dollar match of up to $250,000 for any donations received between Nov. 9 and Nov. 18.

PiE raises money district-wide, and proceeds are allocated on a per-student basis to each elementary, middle and high school. The foundation also awards grants to teachers for classroom projects.

Last year, the record-breaking $3.4 million PiE raised from 4,000 donors was targeted to a range of school needs, including elementary classroom aides and science enrichment, middle school counseling and electives and high school guidance and career-technology electives.

"In this economic environment, the PiE Education Foundation is a necessity – not a luxury – to preserve an outstanding education for our children," said foundation board president Elaine Hahn.

"We urge parents, community members and local businesses to give to PiE as generously as they can."

PiE's "suggested donation per student in family" this year is $800. That compare with a $1,000-per-student "ask" by the Los Altos Educational Foundation; $2,000 from the Las Lomitas Education Foundation; $1,500 by the Menlo Park-Atherton Education Foundation, $500 by the Mountain View Educational Foundation and $1,000 by the Mountain View-Los Altos High School Foundation, PiE stated.

PiE's $3.4 million contribution makes up about 2 percent of the school district's $162.4 million operating budget for 2011-12.

Chris Kenrick

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Posted by Chris Zaharias
a resident of Crescent Park
on Nov 9, 2011 at 1:40 pm

The fact that the entire PiE goal hasn't been funded by a handful of PA's super-wealthy astonishes me. We mere mortals are hit up for $1000 per child, while there are literally hundreds of Palo Altans from Google, Facebook, Cisco, etc with 2-4 more zero's in their net worth & who don't put in $50K/$100K/$1M each. Many of these same people live in Palo Alto yet put their kids in private schools to boot.

I admire PiE and it goes without saying that we all should do our utmost to contribute towards the 'suggested donation per student'. That said, has anyone in PiE even tried doing outreach to those mega-wealthy Palo Altans who could meet the goal themselves?

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Posted by given out
a resident of Crescent Park
on Nov 9, 2011 at 7:47 pm

They way they are increasing is simply to ask each family for more money. The ask has increased nearly 40% over the last 4 years. What about doing something else to get higher engagement than gauge those already giving to meet these arbitrary targets?

Like this comment
Posted by why?
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 11, 2011 at 9:16 pm

Why should anyone donate into a black hole created by California Teacher's Union?

If PAUSD eliminates the seniority-based rule, rewards the good teachers by performance, gets rid of the low-performing but tenured teachers (who may once be good teachers, but a life-time-guaranteed tenure would corrupt anyone), and gives themselves salary and benefit comparable to the private elementary/middle schools, I will be happy to take my kids from private school back to public school, and I will donate generously to PAUSD to reward the high-performing teachers and programs. Under the current rule, no matter how much you donate, it will never be enough, the money will never go to effective use for rewarding dedication and performance.

Why public schools perform far worse than private schools? It is not because of the funding. Public schools have lots of funding, more than private schools. It is because of the union rules that do not reward performance. In fact, when funding cut has to happen, the union boss refuses to reduce their average compensation, resulting in layoffs of the hardworking but junior new teachers. That is the tragedy of American public school system: ruined by the union rules. Why should anyone donate into that system at all?

Like this comment
Posted by Me Too
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 11, 2011 at 9:33 pm

@why - guess we won't be counting on your donation this year. I think PIE is more focused on supplementing what we have than pursuing an ideological agenda.

@chris - PIE does pursue, and gets, some large gifts (>$10K), but not a ton and not huge amounts. I'm not sure why we would prefer a system whereby a few donated a lot than many smaller amounts - seems like it would make the system too dependent on those few (who might change their minds some years) and perhaps give them too much influence.

Good luck to the PIE fundraisers!

Like this comment
Posted by why?
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 11, 2011 at 11:07 pm

@Me Too - you are right, do not count on me to donate to public schools until the union rule changes there. I have been donating to private schools on top of the tuition. I have contributed to the public school funding through my real estate taxes, without using it. So, I do not feel sorry for my attitude.

I must clarify here, I have nothing against PIE, and nothing against you. The volunteers for PIE are good people, they believe they are doing the right thing. But, I think they are misguided. For the purpose of improving the school, using their energy to change the system will be far more effective than throwing more money into the black hole.

I also want to add that, I am not at all against all senior teachers in public schools. There are many good ones, still working hard even after they are tenured. But, no one can deny there are deadwoods. I know there are deadwoods, but the school district can do nothing about them because they are tenured. Those deadwoods do not care about their students at all, but the students dare not to protest, because the protest goes nowhere but resulting in bad grade for themselves. Why do I know so clearly? because I know people who have first-hand experience. Nothing can run well under the union rule. Socialism has been a proven failure in history all over the world.

If you think I am promoting ideology, so be it. But I am merely trying to tell how I feel about the current public school system. It would be an excellent system if the union rule is abolished.

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

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