PiE announces 2012-13 fundraising goal

Palo Alto Partners in Education launches campaign to raise $4.75 million for public schools

An independent, parent-led foundation that raises funds for Palo Alto's public schools Tuesday, Aug. 7, announced a 2012-13 fundraising goal of $4.75 million.

Palo Alto Partners in Education (PiE) will solicit contributions from parents, community members and businesses to support classroom aides; specialists in reading, math, science and the arts; student guidance; college and career counseling and an array of electives.

Launched Tuesday, the campaign will run through January 2013 with the resulting gift to the school district to be announced in March.

In 2011-12, PiE donated $4.4 million to the Palo Alto Unified School District, comprising nearly 3 percent of the district's total operating budget of approximately $160 million. Of that amount, $2.35 million went to the district's 12 elementary schools and Young Fives program, $850,000 to the three middle schools and a combined $1.2 million to Gunn and Palo Alto high schools.

"Palo Altans have a unique opportunity to preserve the academic excellence of our public schools," PiE Board President Terry Godfrey said.

"Working together, we can fund the kinds of programs we want for our children but that the district can no longer afford given difficult economic circumstances. We can increase the number of caring adults on our campuses, provide hands-on arts and science, and a rich array of electives for kids to explore, and ensure that more counselors are available to support all our kids."

School superintendent Kevin Skelly said, "In the face of ongoing state budget cuts, donations to our schools through PiE have become a bedrock of support for PAUSD.

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

Last year PiE received donations from more than 4,600 school families and community members. Families received direct appeal letters in their back-to-school packets.

Since its inception in 2004-05, PiE has donated nearly $20 million to Palo Alto schools. For more information, go to

Chris Kenrick


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Posted by Parent
a resident of Palo Alto High School
on Aug 7, 2012 at 9:07 am

Good luck to PIE.

Remember that they advocated the library bond and to look at your property tax bill before deciding how much to donate.

Yes, I know PTA and PIE are separate, but they are made up of the same individuals who advocated a yes on library bond and yes on school bond measure.

We do not have bottomless pockets. I would rather you stay out of my decision whether or not to increase my taxes. Then perhaps I may have some money to donate to my kids' school.

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Posted by Chris Zaharias
a resident of Crescent Park
on Aug 7, 2012 at 9:37 am

With Palo Alto's population at 65,412 this works out to $72.62 per citizen. C'mon everyone, if we put in $72.62 for each person in our respective families, we'll hit the goal!

Wait a second, the amount PiE suggests we should donate is ~10X more than that. How can that be?

Unless I'm missing something, 90% of Palo Altans aren't contributing diddly squat. Maybe we should dial back our political, environmental, social other non-essential charitable giving and focus on our kids' education? Or, as people around me are increasingly suggesting, is education in Palo Alto already over-done?

Just throwing the question out there to start a debate.

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Posted by mutti
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Aug 7, 2012 at 10:34 am

Palo Alto has all the money it needs for schools. This money goes for 'wants.' Instead, go to and donate to Ravenswood and fund kids who really need the money. Ravenswood has about 1/2 has many students as PAUSD, and 1/3 the money or less. Last year Ravenswood Education Foundation raised about $1 million to fund longer school day, summer programs, etc. Only about $6,000 of that came from parents. They depend on the rich side of 101 to help these kids.

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Posted by palo alto mom
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Aug 7, 2012 at 10:53 am

PiE does wonderful things in our District, I am very grateful to the donors and the volunteers!

Mutti - Ravenswood actually only spends $389 less per student than PAUSD, a far cry from a 1/3 less.

Parent from Palo Alto High - even if you do not donate, your students get PiE $$ spent on them. For example, every grade at Paly has a dedicated Guidance Counselor thanks to PiE $$.

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Posted by Mom
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 7, 2012 at 10:59 am

We left the Palo Alto public schools because we did not feel that our children were getting an appropriate education. We now pay both private school tuition and the tax for the public schools, which is almost 1,000 per year.

The good news is that we do not have to spend money on tutors, therapists or a college counselor.

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Posted by curiosity
a resident of Palo Verde
on Aug 7, 2012 at 11:12 am

Mom, Are you sure only 1000 per year or month??? Does private school provide free tutoring or have a higher API rating?

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Posted by commonsense
a resident of Professorville
on Aug 7, 2012 at 11:13 am

This money is greatly needed and PIE does and excellent job investing it in our childrens' futures. Please do not listen to the negatives - that it's a tax, it's not needed, we have enough money, etc. It's a donation, greatly needed and helps an already reduced budget for more kids. On the practical side, your home value is much determined by the success of our schools, to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars on every home in Palo Alto.

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Posted by Other Supports
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 7, 2012 at 11:43 am

It's no doubt that our public schools always need help. The bar is raising higher and higher every year. Higher than inflation. And not that families can donate.......
We may seek for other donations like 1)big companies Facebook, Google, HP, VMware. 2)local big vendors Whole Foods, Trader Joe's, IKEA. Whole Foods donates a big dollar amount to Cupertino school district, they donate a % of all the purchases within a set period of time. Or 3) Real estate agents since PA communities and closeby areas support their successful sales, see below link. Hope they will help out the local public schools and communties.

Web Link

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Posted by Private Parent
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 7, 2012 at 12:08 pm


Property tax for a million dollar home is about $1,000 a month--so everyone in a home that costs about a million pays about $1000/month for public schools. Of course that ignores the other things property tax goes pays for, but there aren't that many sub-million dollar homes in Palo Alto.

Private school, on an annualized basis, runs about $2,500 a month, depending on the school.

And yes, my kids get free tutoring and have absolutely no issues getting the classes they want, or the extra help they need. And when they hit college application time, the counselor/student ratio will be an order of magnitude lower than Paly or Gunn. They will have several meetings with the counselor before the process even starts, and get the counselor's phone number to call whenever they like.

Many private schools don't report API scores--they don't need to. The best thing is that the school is extremely responsive to any concerns we have, and teachers will sit down and do an meeting nearly any time.

API scores don't educate your kids, top-notch instruction, rigorous grading, and the support necessary to do well at it. Palo Alto schools do extremely well with the first two, but not so much with the third.

Supporting students is incredibly resource intensive--PiE helps a lot with that.

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Posted by musical
a resident of Palo Verde
on Aug 8, 2012 at 5:31 am

Is the deductibility of a PiE donation considered one of those tax-breaks for the rich?

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Posted by Mom
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Aug 8, 2012 at 6:00 am

I went back and looked at the property tax bill for last year...the PAUSD parcel tax amount was $589 per year, which we are charged even though our children are no longer in PAUSD schools.

Our friends with students at PAUSD high schools are shelling out more than $15,000 for private college counselors, to get the college admissions assistance we now get included with private school tuition.

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Posted by mom and private parent are correct
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Aug 8, 2012 at 8:58 am

Mom and Private Parent are correct.
We also left the public schools and were very pleased with the results. Yes, we paid a high tuition and it was worth every penny. This is looking back, years later.
Quit obsessing with tutors, whether public or private. That should be a side aspect of one's education. Education is for learning and an experience you will carry throughout your life.
California public education is not commensurate with what you may find in some other areas of the country - yes, there are some fine public school systems and to some extent, PAUSD is in that group, however it comes at a very high cost, too.

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Posted by parent
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Aug 8, 2012 at 12:21 pm

Its too bad that PAUSD is so short sighted in it rich appetite for bond funded capital spending sprees that it feels the need to take take take property tax for their fabulous lifestyle of the rich and famous spending agenda. Because while all that spending and building may be a 'capital' item for the district, not coming from their operating expense budget - it sure does come out of MY operating expense budget.

So sorry PIE, and sorry PAUSD - but you've exhausted my ability to pay through the nose. And you've chosen to waste that money on over the top remodeling of about every where I turn.

So now live within your means, I won't be donating to PIE.

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Posted by another parent
a resident of Barron Park
on Aug 8, 2012 at 2:25 pm

I agree with parent from Charleston Gardens neighborhood.

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Posted by palo alto mom
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Aug 8, 2012 at 7:32 pm

EVERY child in PAUSD receives the benefit of PiE $$. To all of you who don't donate to PiE - remember that your kids are getting a "free ride" of PiE dollars from the other generous parents and community and business donors. ALL students in PAUSD benefit from PiE. If you truly can't afford to donate anything, that is of course totally fine. If you are a parent that volunteers "time instead of treasure" thank you so much for your time. If you can and choose not to donate for a variety of whiny reasons - the other donors are helping take care of your kids education for you. You should be thanking them instead of complaining.

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Posted by Parent
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Aug 8, 2012 at 10:21 pm

Well, since PIE funding is so sorely needed it too bad then that PAUSD can't control their spending habits enough to understand the impact it has on the tax paying community that is footing the bill. I have limits to my income - I can hand over my money ONCE to PAUSD - its either going to the tax assessment or its going to PIE, PTA, etc. I'm sorry but that's a choice that PAUSD has made, not me. I find it absolutely insulting to go to these campuses and see the absolutely gross level of remodeling that's going on. How in he WORLD, I ask, does PAUSD have the money to afford this? Oh, well they have plenty of my tax dollars filling up their capital fund, and apparently they feel just fine and dandy about paying the bills for that bond.. So they must apparently be rolling in it. Oh wait, you say they're not? They need more money from us to buy teachers aids?, science labs? Where are the logical consequences???? There ARE NONE.

And so in steps PIE - their codependents.. Other donors? No, Im certainly not thanking them. I'm calling them fools for throwing money down the bottomless pit, and giving PAUSD board the impression that money is free, grows on trees, and boundless spending has no consequence, because those 'generous donors' are lining up to bail them out. Maybe it does grow on trees for these 'generous donors', but it doesn't for many of us, and it certainly is teaching PAUSD that the sky is the limit.

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Posted by Chris Zaharias
a resident of Crescent Park
on Aug 9, 2012 at 1:19 pm

@ Parent: wow, you have just laid it out like it appears to be. I'm not as close to the city's finances as you, but to my eyes your argument seems to sum things up the best.

To those who support what PiE's trying to do, and those who specifically do not agree with Parent's argument that we're teaching our city's leadership to manage our edu system's finances poorly, what do you say to his/her very logical, well laid-out position?

And to those who are reading this from the sidelines, let's spread this discussion so more are involved and more consensus can be built in advance of the next elections.

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Posted by palo alto mom
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Aug 12, 2012 at 5:50 pm

parent - the money for structures comes from the Bond which is separate from the District's operating funds and PiE $$. Much of the building we are doing is to add space for our growing enrollment.

To go with your argument, the logical consequence of no PiE $$ for elementary science programs is that the teachers will do it on their own with a much less rich curriculum and resources. The logical consequence of no money for aides is there will be no classroom aides that allow teachers to work with smaller groups, etc. No money for college counselors means that the kids who have money's parents will provide them with counselors and the kids whose parents can't afford it will have to muddle through. You get the point.

Your child will benefit whether or not you donate to PiE, if you truly can't afford it please don't donate and don't feel guilty. The District and PiE actually do "understand the impact" of the taxes and donations paid by the Palo Alto residents - the impact is a much richer and more stable educational experience than most public schools.

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Posted by Me Too
a resident of Midtown
on Aug 12, 2012 at 6:22 pm

"I find it absolutely insulting to go to these campuses and see the absolutely gross level of remodeling that's going on."

How come? The vast majority of the dollars are expansion and/or replacing portables. The school population is growing, plus some of our buildings are old and even decrepit (Paly Tower). It is a lot of building because we are adding at both high schools and all 3 middle schools, to keep things roughly even - at the elementary level, expansions are selective and one at a time (Ohlone done, Fairmeadow underway, Duveneck next).

What do you find gross and insulting about it? The alternative is more portables (which also cost money) or larger class sizes at all levels.

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Posted by Stop Pensions First
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 5, 2012 at 10:42 am

While I commend the efforts and volunteers at PiE, I have decided I will no longer donate to this organization. The pensions teachers and school administrators get is obscene. Being able to retire at 55 with a low to mid six figure guaranteed income is why the school funding is in such a mess it is in now. PiE funds just encourages the administrators and politicians not to fix the problems. And, don't get me started on prop 13, my neighbor in a multi-million dollar home pays only $1000/yr in property tax.

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Posted by palo alto mom
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Sep 5, 2012 at 10:51 am

Stop Pensions First -

First of all, your student(s) will receive PiE dollars whether or not you donate. So not donating actually puts you in the category of your neighbor who pays only $1000 of property tax - you are picking up their slack and other PiE donors are paying for your kids.

Second, PiE provides staffing and supports programs that would not be possible even with some pension reform. A counselor for each grade in middle school and Paly, aides in elementary classrooms, college counselors at both high schools, Spectra Art, elementary science, middle school electives are just some things that PiE funds.

As a District, we are VERY efficient with our $$, much more so than comparable Districts across the country. In other word, we make our money go much farther than most. We are already at the bottom of the country in educational funding. PiE just makes it hurt a little less.

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Posted by Stop Pensions First
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 5, 2012 at 10:00 pm

palo alto mom -

If you choose to enable politicians to make horrible deals with the unions that costs billions of dollars because they know they can always count on raising taxes or just asking for more donations that's your choice. I would consider doing a similar thing on property taxes but who can afford to own in Palo Alto (I rent and I don't work at Google, Apple, Facebook, etc...).

There was just an article in the Daily Post on the "retired" school admins that are pulling in $200,000 - $300,000 a year plus full health benefits guaranteed until they die. And some of them are still working government jobs and not even retired. Doesn't sound too efficient. Nor does the fact government employees can retire at 55 (or 50 in some cases) and get nearly their full salary for life plus save their vacation until they retire so it gets paid out at their highest salary. Heck, based on the latest published salaries for PAUSD teachers most of them get paid more than I do (I have a PhD in science). I don't have a problem with that except they will get a full guaranteed (by the tax payers) pension until they die and I have to struggle to fund my 401k (and there's no guarantee on my 401k balance).

The things you mention would be possible with pension reform as there would simply be more money available for schools. I have many friends and family throughout the country and none of them are asked to donate this much money for their public schooling.

California is in such a mess because they can always count on raising taxes, selling bonds or expecting the public to make donations. It's got to stop.

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Posted by palo alto mom
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Sep 6, 2012 at 12:04 pm

Stop Pensions First - Since the Legislature passed pension reform that will save the California State Teachers’ Retirement System $22.7 billion over 30 years, does that mean you'll be a PiE donor again?

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Posted by Stop Pensions First
a resident of Midtown
on Sep 6, 2012 at 3:35 pm

PAM - The unfunded pension obligation in CA is conservatively estimated to be over $250 billion, $22.7B is just a drop in the bucket. Never mind all the other issues with this piece of legislation. The public sector needs to abolish pensions for a 401(k) type system the private sector has gone to.

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