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School Board, Malibu, Opinion, Santa Monica

Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District Fundraising Efforts: Letter To The School Board

Posted Nov. 26, 2011, 1:21 am


Dear School Board,

I can't even begin to tell you how disappointed I am with your recent decision to combine the fundraising efforts for the schools into one system. I understand that there is an achievement gap in our schools; I believe that is why some of them receive Title 1 funds. I also understand that many of those funds have been cut, but not all. Will those resources also be allocated equally among all schools in the district?

I work hard to support my school, sacrificing valuable time and resources. And I'm not ashamed to admit that this is primarily because I have two children in the Santa Monica school system. I want to support them as much as humanly possible, which is easy to do when

I get to see how my efforts affect their lives on a daily basis.

Would I work just as hard knowing that my time and money might go to other schools in the district? I'm honestly not sure. But the fact that I'm even asking myself the question just goes to show how wrong-headed your decision is.

I've spent the last 20 years supporting and working for various non-profits, mostly dealing with the abused, neglected and underprivileged children of Los Angeles, so I am intimately familiar with the ins and outs of fundraising and soliciting charitable donations. Given this, you'd think I'd be all for a new way of supporting our school district. And I would be, if indeed I thought that this new way would actually have the desired effect. Let me assure you, it will not.

While I believe that combining some of the resources from the wealthier schools could help, creating a system that equally distributes funds to all schools will only result in an overall

decrease in the number of donations. On the surface, it would seem your plan is plausible -- a simple and fair redistribution of funds -- but this assumes that you'll receive the same amount of money. Sadly, this is not the case. The first rule of fundraising is to appeal to

the donor's sense of social responsibility and community. Put simply, people give more to causes that are personal or "hit close to home." By broadening the spectrum of how school funds will be distributed, the board will have effectively narrowed its fundraising target and

legislated a major disincentive to donations, especially with regard to your top-tier donors. Just imagine what would happen if college alumni associations were forced to distributed their donations to all universities instead of the college of their choice.

It's just that simple.

My friends and neighbors have all expressed that they will not continue to monitarily support the schools in the same manner. We have not only discussed this in the hallways of our schools, but also with incoming parents. In fact I spoke to a friend on Monday about this new effort on the part of the school board. She was planning to move her family to Santa Monica, and has now decided to stay in Brentwood. So I know I'm not alone. Luckily, I am the treasurer of my child's class, so next year I plan on asking for more money upfront to support our teacher rather than fundraising for the district.

Hopefully, this will at least off-set some of the damage that will be created by your wrong- headed decision.

Lastly, if you maintain this path, I fully support the Roosevelt, Franklin, and Grant coalition tatement. But I will continue to try to defeat this effort at all stages, including not voting for this school board at re-election time. I was not able to make tonight's meeting because of a lack of childcare.


Corey Cosby

Roosevelt parent

Post a comment


Nov. 26, 2011, 10:06:27 am

Evan Clark said...

School Board needs some young and vibrant minds to help lead SMMUSD to the next level.

Nov. 26, 2011, 8:16:37 pm

Corey Cosby said...

I think the decision to combine fundraising district wide makes perfect sense. It's one school district and if fundraising isn't handled this way we create a "separate but equal" school system where more resources are dedicated to some schools than to others because of the wealth of the parents in a given school. This was an inappropriate thing to do in Alabama Schools in the 1960s and its an inappropriate use of school resources now. Contrary to what "fundraising experts" may say, people who live in Santa Monica are overwhelmingly progressive and are overwhelmingly supportive of Santa Monica schools. We are aware of the value we receive which (at our better funded schools) rivals private schools across the state. So a more even distribution of funds will not vastly reduce giving and will result in a more equitable distribution of resources within the school system. If parents feel strongly that their wealth should benefit their children, they may be happier sending their kids to a private school. There are many to choose from in the area. Respectfully, Nancy Fulton

Nov. 29, 2011, 3:09:03 pm

Randy Rothschild said...

I agree with Ms. Cosby. Progressive Santa Monica parents want local control over their schools, and do not want a centralized bureaucracy making allocation decisions affecting their neighborhood schools. This proposal lacks common and practical sense and won't work in a large District such as ours that extends all the way to Malibu. It is imprudent, in any case, to simply make a decision like this based upon mere opinion or speculation on what will or won't happen. Before acting, the Board should at least do a survey of parents who regularly donate and see what they think, and how (if any) this centralized plan will affect their future donations.

Dec. 2, 2011, 11:18:41 pm

Tim said...

Nancy you are so wrong. Corey you are spot on. I know that their is a large group of Rosevelt parents, myself included, that will not give another dime to the PTA since it will ultimately be mismanged. To Nancy's comment...throwing money at the schools with lower test scores wont make a dent. If people here are so progressive then why dont they spend more time mentoring and guiding young people

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