A parcel tax that failed last month has prompted Millbrae Elementary School District officials to consider forming a nonprofit fundraising foundation to help stave off budget cuts next fiscal year.
With the May failure of Measure R, a parcel tax that would have helped restore some $1.8 million in cuts made over the last few years, the district learned it had to make additional budget cuts unless additional money was earmarked for next and future school years. The $78 per parcel tax would have raised approximately $490,000 annually.
The election results were finalized only a couple weeks ago, leaving little time for officials to determine how to move forward before finalizing its budget for next year. The district board of trustees must approve the budget in less than a week.
The low voter turnout — figures show that approximately 56 percent of parents did not vote in the special mail-in election — was the impetus behind the district’s consideration to form an education foundation, similar to those established in neighboring communities like Hillsborough.
The purpose of an education foundation is to raise money for schools. Such foundations often have more leverage with state and local officials when it comes to raising money, easing pressure off parents who have been raising funds for basic classroom material and programs, Superintendent Karen Philip said.
District officials and PTA members met this week to discuss forming a foundation, which Spring Valley Elementary School PTA parliamentarian Frank Barbaro said provided some good news for parents, but also some concerns.
While the creation of a foundation would take the pressure off parents to supplement classroom funds, it would take some getting used to for the PTA to be completely hands-off in terms of fundraising, leaving the foundation completely in charge of the effort.
“It’ll take some getting used to,” Barbaro said. “But it’s still a great thing for us parents.”
Philip estimated that parents have raised some $106,000 in the last school year, some of which was devoted to employee salaries. Philip was unsure whether the presence of a foundation — which would likely raise at least $100,000 annually — would completely stave off theneed for budget cuts, but the additional revenue would be better than nothing.
“We need to meet and determine how much money we can expect to get from such an organization,” Philip said. “At this point, it’s really hard to say, but we should know more after we talk on Monday.”
Kris Barbaro, parent of a child at Spring Valley Elementary and another at Taylor Middle School, said she would support an education foundation. The Spring Valley PTA has been supporting an art program but parents are finding it more difficult to raise money for such things.
“It’s too much strain for the PTA to be fundraising as much as we do,” Barbaro said.
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