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Schools need community cash

March 21, 2012

Last week the school board issued a statement regarding the La Cañada district's financial future. That statement followed board action approving the budget for next year, which reflects a cut of $400 per student from the state, loss of federal stimulus funds, the release of 19 teachers, and the draw-down of $2.3 million in reserves to cover the amount by which expenses are projected to exceed revenue.

Realistically, the only option available to us for the upcoming year is to rely on financial support from the community that would allow reinstatement of the teachers let go, in order to maintain class size at about current levels. That would take approximately $2 million (same amount raised last year). The recommended donation from school and community families and local businesses remains at $2,500. Even if the community generates $2 million in donations, the district will have to draw down on its reserves by $2.3 million.

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If the community raises less than $2 million, unfortunately we will see the evidence of larger class sizes in September.

A longer term solution should come into focus after the November election. The governor's tax initiative, if approved by voters, would not restore past cuts to schools; instead, K-12 schools would simply escape the estimated $400-per-student funding cut for next year (when we expect that our funding from Sacramento will be $1,014 per-student less than five years earlier).

We believe that a self-sustaining source of local revenue is the best option for a longer-range solution to protect our schools from the threat Sacramento's financial mess continues to pose. Early next year, we will be taking steps to propose the extension of the current parcel tax with a recommended amount reflective of voter action in November.

Between now and June 30, we will provide the community with frequent updates on our efforts to raise at least $2 million in contributions by the end of this school year.

If you have already made your donation to the LCFEF, we thank you. If not, please consider making a donation now at lcfef.org/donate. Every dollar counts.

We know this is frustrating, and we know these are hard times. We don't like this any more than you do, but we are out of options. Please understand that your donations directly support our schools, our community, and our children.

For those of you who have given and continue to give, thank you so much for all you have done already.

Scott Tracy

President, LCUSD Governing Board

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