Donation Plea Raises Funds for Millbrae Schools

The Millbrae Education Foundation Second Chance Donation Drive last month brought in more than $25,000 to restore programs and fund staff at Millbrae schools.

Since the Millbrae Education Foundation Second Chance Donation Day, which was held on March 27 at five Millbrae schools where parent volunteers collected donations during drop off and pick up times, more than $25,000 has been raised.

“The more we raise, the more we can do,” said Millbrae Education Foundation (MEF) president Karen Bettucchi. “Thank you to all who have donated.”

Still, the amount raised is not enough to “bridge the gap between state budget cuts and the quality education our children deserve,” said Bettucchi.

According to the Millbrae Education Foundation, a non-profit 501(3)c foundation dedicated to supporting Millbrae public elementary schools, the Millbrae School District is currently receiving less than $7,000 per student from the state. Current projections are that if the governor's tax initiative passes, Millbrae schools will receive the same funding as this year, with no additional funding to address the effects of these cuts. If the initiative does not pass, there will be even more cuts.

“These cuts will be in addition to the ones we are already struggling to deal with,” said Bettucchi.

The MEF has raised and donated $394,000 since their founding in 2007, making it possible to re-hire necessary staff in Millbrae schools. The MEF is the only volunteer organization that can fund teacher and staff salaries in Millbrae.

Last school year, the organization raised $175,000 to fund 20 hours per week of instructional aide time at each elementary school, and one full-time counselor at Taylor Middle School.

The MEF’s goal this year is to raise $225,000.

“To date, we have raised $195,000,” said Bettucchi. “The more we can raise the more staff we can fund and the more programs we can restore.”

It’s MEF fundraisers like Second Chance Donation Day that will help “grant funds to our district for quality instruction and the professionals needed to fully staff our schools and restore programs in reading, math, science, technology, and the arts,” said Bettucchi.

Donation pleas from the Millbrae School District Superintendent Linda Luna to come together and bridge the gap of providing the necessary resources to the schools also help get the word out that Millbrae schools need funding to restore programs and staffing.

A week before this year’s Second Chance Donation Drive, Luna penned a letter to the parents and guardians of the Millbrae School District, asking them to increase their awareness and support to a school district that has “nothing left to cut and reduce,” she wrote. “State funding to the Millbrae schools is not enough. Our investment is required.”

In that March 19th letter, Luna also cited important facts and key issues about Millbrae schools as all school districts in California continue to struggle in fiscal solvency and providing a progressive instructional program:

  • The inequity of funding across school districts and the 20.66 percent reduction of State funding to schools requires devastating cuts to our Millbrae schools.
  • Tax initiatives on the November 2012 ballot bring great uncertainty of passage and threats of mid-year cuts to our district at $839,000 in January 2013 should the tax initiative not pass.
  • A reduction of teaching staff makes class sizes in Millbrae an average of 28-30 students per classroom, Kindergarten -8th grade.
  • Millbrae has reduced the school year by 5 instructional days by all staff serving furlough days.
  • After school programs and enrichment programs (Elementary Music and GATE) and textbook funds have been eliminated.
  • A reduction of classified staff (classroom aides, custodians, technology media aides) make elementary schools share evening custodians (cleaning schools only every other night) and close their libraries.

“The children of Millbrae deserve and require more than a skeletal, basic education,” said Luna. “As members of this great community and school district, we must increase our participation in our children's future and take responsibility for ensuring the comprehensive, rigorous and enriching education we expect and desire for our children. We all need to come together and bridge the gap of providing the necessary resources to our schools.”

With the funds raised this year, “we will focus on hiring staff that would otherwise be eliminated,” said Bettucchi. “The MEF will work with the Superintendent and the School Board to determine the greatest area of need and how the funds we raise can be most effective for all of our schools and students in the 2012-2013 school year.”

MEF’s next fundraiser is a district-wide walk-a-thon on May 14 where students and their parents reach out to family, friends, and the community for support and sponsorship. The MEF Walk-a-Thon will be held at each of the five Millbrae schools — Spring Valley, Meadows, Green Hills, Lomita Park and Taylor.

There’s also the MEF Nights Out fundraising effort, an opportunity to enjoy a night out with family and friends while supporting Millbrae schools and local businesses. Evenings during the spring participating local businesses donate up to 30 percent of their proceeds for that evening to the Millbrae Education Foundation. The final MEF Night Out for this spring will be on Tuesday, May 8. 

“Our biggest goal with all these fundraising events is to be able to raise enough funds to ensure that our children have enough teachers and staff available to them, our teachers have the support they need, enrichment programs in reading, math, science, technology and the arts are available to our children, and ultimately, that our children receive the rich, quality education that they deserve and require as a great first step towards a bright future,” said Bettucchi.

It’s never too late to donate! Donating is simple, flexible, and tax-deductible, and can be done online via PayPal at http://www.millbraeeducationfoundation.org
Checks in any amount are appreciated and can be mailed to The Millbrae Education Foundation, P.O. Box 580, Millbrae, CA, 94030. 

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