In the face of a $3 million budget shortfall, the Coronado Schools Foundation (CSF) launched a “fuel our schools” campaign to bridge the gap.
In December it sent out a letter to all homeowners explaining the importance of good schools to property values. In January another letter will go out to parents.
So far the response from property owners has been good. “Donations are coming in at a good clip,” said Patty Cowen, the CSF’s executive director.
Property owners were the first target, because whether they know it or not they benefit from good quality schools.
The public schools in Coronado are very highly rated, which leads many young families buy houses here, despite the price tag. In the long run, many families find that it is a cost-effective alternative to sending their children to private school.
Stakeholders in the Coronado school system have good reason to be concerned. If the cuts the governing board made last week go into effect, programs and student services will have to be cut. Teachers will be laid off.
“To meet the $3 million shortfall, we need to raise an additional $1,000 per pupil.” CSF hopes to meet this goal by March, when the mandated pink slips go out to teachers.
If money is found after the deadline, the layoffs will be rescinded. It’s a ritual many districts have faced during the economic down turn, but one Coronado has not had to face thanks to a strong property tax bases and contributions from the community.
The changes are a result of the Local Control Funding Formula, introduced this year by the State of California, which gives more funds to school districts with a high number of disadvantage students. The new formula took Coronado from the middle of the funding pack to nearly the bottom.
While the CSF is scrambling to find more revenues for programs and services, the school district is also reaching out to the community.
It’s holding a series of strategic planning/cutting sessions at each school site to explain the crisis and ask for input. Felix urges everyone in the community interested in our schools to attend. There is a budget workshop scheduled for 5 p.m. on January 7th at Village Elementary. Additional meetings will be scheduled and advertised via the district and school websites.
Asking voters to pay more in local taxes is one option Felix is considering.
“While the board is not currently deliberating over any form of increasing revenue via taxation, I am personally investigating this option,” Felix wrote in an e-mail. The advantage of bonds, he explained, is that the only require 55% majority.
The downside is that they are usually used for facilities. Coronado needs the money for programs and teachers, not buildings, and the ballot measure would have to reflex this.
“It has been difficult to find the proper language for such a ballot measure,” Felix acknowledges. Still he intends to present “some solution to the board at the January 23 meeting,” although not before he has “listened carefully to the community.”
In the meantime, if you want to help maintain quality education in Coronado you can donate to the Coronado Schools Foundation at [email protected]. “All donations are tax deductible.” Cowen said.
“If you have children in school, if you went to Coronado schools, if you’re property owner, you benefit, have benefited and continue to benefit from the schools,” she added.
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