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Schools Foundation Begins Drive for $200,000

Times Staff Writer

The Newport-Mesa Schools Foundation, the private fund-raising group formed to help soften the impact of Proposition 13 on public schools in Newport Beach and Costa Mesa, Monday afternoon began a drive to raise $200,000 for the 1985-86 school year.

The money is used to augment state funding of the Newport-Mesa Unified District schools. The foundation’s previous fund-raising efforts were successful in restoring music education to the elementary grades and providing a special reading program, among other things.

The foundation sponsors said Monday that the next school year’s goal is about double what has been raised annually since the fund drives started in 1981.

“We’ve raised about $100,000 a year in the past four years, mainly from parents, and now we hope to involve the business community of Newport Beach and Costa Mesa,” said Ralph Nelson, president of Dayhill Corp. of Irvine and chairman of the school foundation’s 1985-86 business drive.

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$5,000 Challenge Grant

Nelson, speaking to parents, teachers and corporate donors at a meeting at the Newport Beach Marriott Hotel, announced that the Irvine Co. had started the drive with a $5,000 challenge grant. The grant is a challenge for the campaign to double the amount from other donors, Nelson said.

John W. Nicholl, superintendent of Newport-Mesa Unified, reminded the audience of the district’s paradox: Despite the affluence of Costa Mesa and Newport Beach, it is among the poorer districts, per student, in the state. This is the result of a 1977 court ruling requiring equal funding of schools, which sharply limited state aid to wealthy areas with strong local tax support, such as Newport-Mesa. The next year brought Proposition 13, the initiative that cut back drastically the ability of school districts to tax at the local level.

The net result, said Nicholl, is that Newport-Mesa has had “shortfalls in funding . . . If we applied the consumer price index and adjusted for inflation, we find that Newport-Mesa schools are getting $461 (per student per year) less than in 1973.”

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Nicholl said the work of the foundation is thus very important in raising money to restore such programs as music in elementary schools and to provide extra help such as the new grants program begun this past school year. The grants program allowed each school to nominate special educational equipment or programs it needed. A committee then awarded the available money to projects deemed the most urgent or most educationally beneficial.

‘Not a Panacea’

“The state lottery money is talked about, but it just won’t catch up on our needs,” said Nicholl. “The lottery is not a panacea.”

Nelson disclosed a new fund-raising method for the foundation: a desk calendar containing advertising and school support messages.

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“This type of calendar has been used in the Beverly Hills schools and raises $150,000 a year,” said Nelson. “We’re a much bigger district, and so we believe we can raise $100,000 just from the calendar advertising.”


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