View Full Version : Westside-Inland Beverly Hills school leaders set a lofty goal: Raise $1 million in one week to stave off cuts

05-03-2011, 09:22 AM
From the L.A. Times (http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-bevhills-schools-20110503,0,2584734.story) by Howard Blume:

Even by Beverly Hills standards, the idea is rich: Raise $1 million in one week to bail out a tiny public school system that is thriving but still lacks immunity from the financial ills plaguing California's schools.

The fundraiser, which kicked off Monday, is meant to spare Beverly Hills Unified about two dozen layoffs. So far, Beverly Hills has been able to maintain class sizes of 20 in the early grades and 29 in the upper grade levels; neighboring behemoth L.A. Unified, which has laid off thousands and is poised to lay off thousands more, passed a budget that calls for 30 students per class in the lower grades and numbers that move sharply upward from there.

Beverly Hills Unified, with 4,700 students, has four schools that serve kindergarten through eighth grade students and one high school. About three-quarters of student enrollment is white, followed by Asians at 13%. About 8% of students qualify for subsidized meals.

The middle grade students have instrumental music, choral music, musical theater and foreign languages. A fulltime art teacher works at each campus. The high school has a production studio, a pool, a mini-observatory and eight counselors.

"We have a great school district," said Jennifer Terrell Schwartz, co-chair of the Beverly Hills PTA Council. "We've got to keep it great. Our kids are so fortunate."

The school system has escaped harsh cuts so far, in part because state rules can require districts in prosperous communities to rely mostly on local property taxes, said Assistant Supt. Alex Cherniss. That formula alone boosted district coffers by about 15%. The city of Beverly Hills also kicks in $10 million annually.

But a drop in property values meant less money came in than budgeted. And the state's remaining contribution also came in lower than planned. Officials approved $2.2 million in cuts to a $50-million budget. The district cut $500,000 in nonteaching positions and notified 23 teachers and administrators that they could be laid off.

read more>> (http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-bevhills-schools-20110503,0,2584734.story)

05-12-2011, 09:51 AM
From the L.A. Times (http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-0512-bevhills-schools-20110512,0,5353207.story) by Howard Blume:
An effort to raise $1 million in one week for Beverly Hills schools fell short, but the drive to prevent key layoffs is likely to succeed anyway because of a financial maneuver by officials and a pledge from the teachers union.

The initiative, called the One Campaign, was notable for its ambition and speed. It called attention to the resources that Beverly Hills can command for its schools but also underscored the reality that, even there, campuses have suffered from an ongoing statewide financial crisis that has caused even greater duress elsewhere.

For the official weeklong period that concluded Sunday, the Beverly Hills Education Foundation had raised about $540,000. The total has since reached $600,000 from 1,900 donors, 35% of whom hadn't previously donated, said organizer Jonathan Prince.

The largest single donation was $25,000 from Lili and Jon Bosse, parents of a recent graduate of Beverly Hills schools; Lili Bosse, a City Council member, is a graduate of the local schools. One child turned in a dollar found on the playground.

"The campaign brought everybody together," said Alex Cherniss, an assistant superintendent. "People have this perception that in Beverly Hills, one person can write that check. That's not the case and that's not what happened. There are lots of middle-class, hardworking folks here, and almost all of them contributed."

The tally was enough to persuade the school board Monday to save all 11 targeted positions, including counselors, specialists for disabled students, an elementary school technology teacher, middle school instrumental music teachers and, at the high school, the journalism teacher, a performing arts teacher and custodial staff.

read more>> (http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-0512-bevhills-schools-20110512,0,5353207.story)