View Full Version : All SF A Public School Kept Afloat by Private Donations

02-25-2011, 09:30 AM
This from The Bay Citizen (http://www.baycitizen.org/columns/scott-james/public-school-kept-afloat-private/) by Scott James:
A public school is one “maintained at public expense,” the dictionary says. By that definition, San Francisco might receive an “incomplete” for its financial support of the city’s schools, including Lowell High School, one of the nation’s best public schools.

Over the past few years, the San Francisco Unified School District has been unable to pay for all of the school’s operating expenses. To meet the shortfall, alumni, parents and students have stepped in with more than $1 million in private donations.

The fundraising success is on one level inspiring; the amount raised would make many colleges envious. But at the same time, it raises troubling questions about society’s commitment to excellence in public schools.

“There was a lot of urgency to save a lot of things at the school,” said Stephen King, who manages the fundraising for the Parents Teachers Students Association. Using direct mail and e-mail campaigns, the parents’ group and the Lowell Alumni Association are doing the bulk of the current fundraising.

King, a professional fundraiser and father of two Lowell students, donates his expertise. He said his group raised $450,000 in the 2009-10 school year and has given nearly $350,000 this school year.

Additionally, alumni have donated more than $200,000 this school year, according to Terence Abad, the alumni association’s executive director.

The donations have paid for basic day-to-day operations, covering nearly 5 percent of Lowell’s current $12 million operating budget to educate 2,550 students. (Other city schools have fundraisers, but not at this level.)

“It’s definitely caused some debate,” Abad said, referring to alumni discussions. “How much should we get into the nuts and bolts of running the school? Isn’t that what our taxes are for?”

However, if not for the fundraising, journalism would have faced cuts, along with Latin, theater and other programs.

read more>> (http://www.baycitizen.org/columns/scott-james/public-school-kept-afloat-private/)