When Mohini Jain heard about drastic cuts facing the Davis Joint Unified School District, she couldn’t think of a better reason to help the community. The recently retired Davis High School teacher and community member of 20 years donated $100,000 to the Davis Schools Foundation.
“Education means a lot to me,” Jain said. “I could see that the cutbacks would compromise the quality of education.”
Jain, whose three children attended Davis schools, said the community should be part of the effort to maintain education. She gave such a large donation because she knew it would spark other donations – which it did.
“I told the Foundation, ‘I am confident in the community in Davis,'” she said.
Jain was one of the hundreds of community members who donated to the foundation’s Dollar a Day fundraising campaign, which raised $1.77 million, said foundation president Janet Berry. Music, science programs and librarians were saved through fundraising, she said.
The Davis Schools Foundation is a dedicated group of 15 Davis parents who saw the need to reinstate teaching positions and programs and reduce class size, said Ginni Davis, associate superintendent for the Davis Joint Unified School District.
Despite the success of the fundraising campaign, DJUSD and many other California school districts are still in a fiscal crisis. There is declining student enrollment, and the district is spending more than it is taking in.
“Other districts have not been as fortunate as DJUSD. Cuts have been much more draconian than ours,” Davis said. “Because of the Davis Schools Foundation for one year we can keep programs that we would’ve had to cut. But there’s still tremendous concern for the following years.”
Linda Legnitto, associate superintendent of administrative services at the Yolo County Office of Education, said because of the Foundation, DJUSD has enough money to get through one year without making significant cuts. But it will need ongoing revenue for subsequent years since it is a state requirement to report and file with the office of education with a multi-year projection.
“How much money schools get is based on a guess of how many kids are going to attend in the next three years, and you really don’t know,” Legnitto said.
Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s 2008-2009 January budget proposal was revised May 14. The revisions restore $1 million to Davis schools, which is an improvement, but DJUSD is left short by $3 million, Legnitto said.
Berry said the May revision combined with the fundraising efforts to create a more positive budget outlook.
“Luckily, with the May revise numbers we will be able to bring back 25.4 teachers and a variety of programs,” Berry said.
The Davis Schools Foundation will continue fundraising and stick around for the years following the 2008-2009 schools year, she said.
SASHA LEKACH can be reached at email@example.com.