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Education foundation isn't the right conduit

March 31, 2012

The La Cañada Unified School District Governing Board has finally dealt with complaints concerning racist remarks in the classroom. Some wonder why teachers can't simply be fired. A large body of state laws and regulations make it virtually impossible to dismiss teachers. The issue is not with the local teachers union, the district administration or the school board. State laws and regulations need to be changed with the cooperation of parents, legislators and state union leaders to demonstrate California's commitment to excellence in education and healthy schools.

In response to this recent crisis, the district's Uniform Complaint process has been streamlined and is working well. I saw a complaint dealt with and dismissed in a few days to the satisfaction of all involved. This is real progress!

District press releases soliciting $2,500 donations are disturbing. These solicitations must come from the LCF Educational Foundation. Public schools are funded by taxes, not donations. When a public school “asks” for donations, the request arises from their authority to raise money for schools, so that the “donations” are not truly voluntary. The foundation was created as an independent, private fundraising entity to solicit and collect such voluntary contributions. Otherwise both parcel taxes and flat $2,500 donations become reverse taxes, putting the heaviest burden on those who can afford it least. Are those who can afford to do more unwilling to do their part? Let's allow people to give what they are able to give.

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I call for the creation of an alternative conduit for donations to LCUSD. In recent years the Educational Foundation has become too involved in the politics of the district, and has demonstrated too little financial transparency to be a suitable conduit for such large sums of money. The financials on the LCFEF website raise more questions than they answer. Why are the annual gifts to the district such round figures ($1.1 million, $2 million)? How does the LCFEF come off holding $3 or $4 million in assets when district reserves are depleted? What business does LCFEF have running a Summer School at LCHS? We need a simple, direct conduit for gifts that won't be in contention with the district.

Jim Stoker

La Cañada Flintridge


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