A dollar a day for one year.
That’s what the Davis Schools Foundation is asking Davis residents to give to support local K-12 education. Its leaders are hoping to raise enough money to compensate for a $4.25 million cut in the Davis Joint Unified School District’s (DJUSD) budget for 2008-2009.
School district trustees are grappling with how to deal with the nearly 6 percent reduction in the budget. They have already voted to shut down Valley Oak Elementary School and are considering closing Emerson Junior High School. They have also notified 112 teachers and administrators that they could lose their jobs.
If we received a dollar a day for every child currently enrolled in DJUSD, that would equate to $3.08 million, said Janet Berry, President of the Davis Schools Foundation, at the Mar. 6 school board meeting. However, since we know that not all parents will be able to give at this level, we will be reaching beyond parents to the community at large.
Berry said the foundation, which is a nonprofit volunteer group, has been receiving a very positive response from the community. According to its website, the foundation had raised $138,293 as of Mar. 19.
Some community members, such as Harper Junior High School teacher Cliff Dimon, are calling for Davis residents to donate all or part of their federal tax rebates to the foundation.
It just so happens that many of us will be receiving money from our federal government designed for ‘economic stimulus,’ Dimon wrote in an open letter to the community. We can use this to financially ‘stimulate our schools.’
DJUSD trustee Tim Taylor said he was not surprised at the public effort to help the district.
This community has a long history of supporting its children and its schools, he said in an e-mail interview. Anything else would have been a surprise. [The foundation members are] dedicated, determined and have proven over the last two to three years to be very good at what they do.
City Councilmember Don Saylor presented the Davis Schools Foundation with his $365 personal check and Mayor Pro Tempore Ruth Asmundson’s $365 personal check at the Mar. 6 school board meeting.
With Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s proposed $4.8 billion cut in state funding for public education, Davis isn’t the only school district facing a budget crisis.
The Elk Grove Unified School District, located just south of Sacramento, faces a $25 million budget shortfall. Trustees there notified 388 teachers earlier this month that they may lose their jobs, according to the Elk Grove Citizen.
Statewide, more than 20,000 teachers have been issued notices of potential layoff, according to a news release from the California Department of Education.
‘Unscathed’ districts are now the exception, Taylor said.
The decrease in funds available to the district is not just because of state budget cuts, said DJUSD trustee Gina Daleiden in an e-mail interview. The district has been facing declining enrollment for several years, which means a corresponding drop in attendance-based funding, she said.
At some point, we must reconcile our system to this reality, and that may mean changes in facilities and configurations, she said.
Last November, Davis voters passed Measure Q, a parcel tax that generates about $3.5 million per year for the school district. In a letter from the Yolo County Board of Education, associate superintendent Linda Legnitto said the situation in Davis would be worse without this.
If DJUSD was an average district without the benefit of the parcel tax, you would be cutting $8 million at this time, Legnitto wrote.
The district must adopt a budget by June 30.
JEREMY OGUL can be reached at email@example.com.