Guest Column: Schools need $2500 from stakeholders annually

December 15, 2010|By Joel Peterson and Scott Tracy

By now, most of you have heard the news. Our school district is facing an unprecedented financial crisis.

The school board created a task force to help us all do our part to weather this storm. Our campaign is going to kick off officially in late January. For a number of reasons, however, we felt we needed to speak to you all immediately.

The problem has grown worse

The state of California, which is the primary source of funding for our school district, is in terrible financial shape. For years, Sacramento has failed to provide the funding it promised us.


Our district was able to manage. But the shortfall is greater than ever and we fully expect that the state will actually cut this year's funding in the middle of this school year and that the state will cut again, even more deeply, in July.

The bottom line? We are facing a gap of $6 million for 2011-2012. This represents the difference between our funding in 2007-2008 and our current level, plus the widely-held likelihood of on-going cuts. The district is out of options for bridging a deficit of this magnitude without severe impact to our educational program. Six million dollars accounts for a huge chunk of our $32 million budget. If we fail to raise these funds ourselves — and not just for this year, but for the five years we believe this crisis will last — we will all feel the impact, starting next September.

And it will get worse with each passing year.

What's at stake

In many ways, La Cañada is like a factory town. Our factory is our school system. It's the prime reason our community is such a wonderful place to live and work. It's what sets our property values apart from the communities around us. If our class sizes explode, if we lose our ability to maintain AP courses, arts and athletics, if we cannot afford aides or counselors, then we damage the very bedrock of our community.

Our businesses, our homes, our children and our community are all at risk.

What you can do right now

Because of this, we are asking everyone with a stake in our schools to contribute at least $2500 on an annual basis until this crisis is over. It is quite likely we will be asking even more from those of you who are particularly fortunate.

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