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Published on December 20th, 2011 | by EIC

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Board of Education centralizes fundraising for all SMMUSD schools

PENSIVE: Board member Jose Escarce processes information at the board meeting where the centralized funding policy was passed. (Molly Chaikin / The Samohi)

Sintra Martins
Staff Writer

The Santa-Monica Malibu Board of Education changed the district funding policy to centralized fundraising.

Before the new policy was passed, 15 percent of all parent-teacher association (PTA) fundraising at all schools was pooled into a fund to help offset the fundraising gap between schools. With the new policy, 100 percent of the money will be pooled and distributed to schools accordingly and every school will eventually have the same dollar amount for each student.

According to Santa Monica-Malibu Education Foundation (SMMEF) Executive Director Linda Gross, the centralized monetary collection will pay for personnel and professional development (teacher training).

“All parent-teacher associations (PTAs) and district clubs will still be able to raise money for their specific school site — equipment, supplies, field trips, assemblies — but all funding for personnel will be centralized through SMMEF and personnel positions will be decided on a per capita basis,” Gross said. “The purpose of the new policy is to ensure program parity and equity across all schools and students in our school district.”

According to the Assistant to the Superintendent Sarah Wahrenbrock,  each individual fundraising program will no longer be individual. Programs that have a 501C3 (a goverment tax code to signify a non-profit program) will no longer be considered as individual fundraising programs.When implemented, all money raised to fund personnel, no matter who raises it, will be collected and redistributed throughout SMMUSD schools.

According to Wahrenbrock, superintendent Sandra Lyon is organizing an advisory committee that will decide where the funding gets distributed within each school.

“What we are trying to do is to create equity throughout all the schools in the district.

The purpose of the administrative regulation (AR) is to provide a plan of how to achieve the central fundraising goal. They are revising the policy. The AR is going to be examining what other school districts have done,” Wahrenbrock said. “They’re going to do research first, then they’re going to make a suggestion to the board about what the implementation plan should be.”

According to Gross starting in July of 2013, the policy will go into effect. Elementary schools will be the first to change, then middle schools following. High schools will not be affected for several years.

“Right now, nothing changes. We are still discussing how [middle and high] schools will be affected by this. That will be part of the implementation discussion that the advisory committee will be having,” Gross said.

According to Gross, many different entities of SMMUSD (parents, students and SMMUSD staff) have mixed feelings about the new policy.

“It’s been very split between people who are very much in favorite of it, those who are very against it and those who are conceptually for it but wanted to have a discussion about implementation first before the vote. SMMEF has always been about raising funds for all students in our districts. This was not put forth by us, it was a school board decision, but they designated [SMMEF] as the single fundraising entity for the school district, and the education foundation will be the only fundraising entity allowed to raise funds for the districts to pay for personnel and professional development. SMMUSD and the SMMEF will develop a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), outlawing the rules and responsibilities of SMMEF as well as the district as it relates to fundraising,” Gross said. “It will make both sides accountable and transparent. It will be a way to let the community know what our rules and responsibilities are.

Gross is hopeful that centralized fundraising will have a positive effect on SMMUSD, its schools and its community.

“This has been done successfully in other communities in California. We have every reason to believe it will be successful here,” Gross said.

smartins@thesamohi.com


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