District Administration September 2017 - 58

FUNDRAISING FAIRNESS

HELPING HANDS-Community members attend a SchoolsRule charity event
in Marin County.. Money collected by the organization accounts for about 30
percent of the funds raised in the county's highest-needs districts.

Portland schools were allowed to form
education foundations to raise money for
staffing to add back teachers. After the first
$10,000 raised, a third of the money went
into a central equity fund. That money
is redistributed to schools, first through
grant applications and later through a formula that considers student demographics (such as students living in poverty,
students of color and students with limited English proficiency) and finances (including amount of Title I funds received,
money raised through the school's PTA
and previous equity fund awards).
In 2015-16, Portland school foundations raised $3.4 million, of which about
$1 million went into the equity fund to
pay for extra staff members, classroom
supplies, field trips, professional development and other resources.
A big shift
In California, the long tradition of private
donations for public education goes back
to 1978, when voters passed Proposition
13 to limit property taxes. And as in Portland, districts in Marin County, just north
of San Francisco, responded to budget
cuts by developing a regional approach to
promoting equity through fundraising.
SchoolsRule-Marin, a consortium of
58 September 2017

education foundations representing the
county's 19 districts, formed in 2011 to
draw attention to the decline in school
funding during the recession.
"Originally the idea was just to get the
message out about the needs of schools,"
says Trisha Garlock, SchoolsRule board
president. "There's so much noise, now
more than ever: Schools need money,
schools need money, schools need money. People don't listen anymore,"
The districts' foundations still solicit
donations from parents, while Schools
Rule raises money from local businesses
and charitable foundations. Unlike in
Portland, SchoolsRule distributes money
on a per-student basis. Garlock says this
method promotes transparency-there
should be no question as to why the
money goes where it goes-and encourages all foundations to participate in
fundraising efforts because the foundations know they will share equally.
At the highest-need districts in the
county, SchoolsRule money makes up
more than 30 percent of the foundation
money raised, she adds.
Marin County districts are also addressing the inequity issue in smaller ways.
About five years ago, officials at the Mill
Valley School District recognized inequi-

ties in the way their elementary schools
were using technology. Each school decided which devices to buy and how to use
them, and PTAs that could raise a lot of
money could afford to buy more. "Some
had an easier time than others raising
money," Superintendent Paul says.
The fix included a purchase-andreplacement schedule and coaching for
teachers on how to use technology in
their lessons. The cost was $125 per student, and PTAs were asked to contribute
$100 per student; the rest would be covered by the district's foundation.
The district moved slowly, taking a
year to work out the details, run a pilot
program and ensure PTAs were on board.
"It was a big shift for the way we operate," Johnson says. "Before, things were
decentralized and each school did their
own thing."
Worthwhile message
However a district chooses to address
equity and fundraising, an important
element is messaging, says Robin Callahan, executive director of the National
School Foundation Association. "It's up
to the superintendent and it's up to the
school board (to say), 'We're here to serve
all students,'" Callahan says. "And that's
what they need to sell to parents-it's not
about what happens at a single school."
Callahan recommends highlighting the indirect benefits for all students.
Consider, for example, a donation-funded pre-K summer school that prepares
low-income students for the classroom.
All students benefit when their peers
come to school prepared to learn. On the
other hand, if students at one elementary
school have iPads and students at another
don't, students at the first school will have
to wait for the second group to catch up
with the technology when they all meet
in middle school.
"There are parents who will always
want the resources to go to their child, and
that's OK," Callahan says. "I think that's a
worthwhile message to parents-there are
indirect benefits to their students." DA
Abby Spegman is a freelance writer based in
Washington.
District Administration



Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of District Administration September 2017

District Administration September 2017 - Cover1
District Administration September 2017 - Cover2
District Administration September 2017 - 1
District Administration September 2017 - 2
District Administration September 2017 - 3
District Administration September 2017 - 4
District Administration September 2017 - 5
District Administration September 2017 - 6
District Administration September 2017 - 7
District Administration September 2017 - 8
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