The final of three Burbank Unified elementary music teaching positions proposed to be eliminated through layoffs has been saved, according to district staff, following extensive fundraising efforts.
Donations from community members, nonprofit organizations and local businesses raised the $275,328 needed to spare those positions, Supt. Matt Hill said during a school board meeting last week.
“We can happily announce that all three elementary music teachers are going to be saved and in place,” Hill said. “It’s an amazing accomplishment for the whole community.”
He added, “It’s sad and depressing that we have to beg, borrow and fight for every dollar for public education, but it’s inspiring and uplifting that we live to fight another year.”
The money raised will keep all three teachers for the next school year, beginning in August, though a funding stream for following years will likely need to be created.
Many of the nonprofits, such as the Burbank Arts for All Foundation and the Burbank Educational Foundation, had representatives at the meeting symbolically presenting large-sized checks.
Burbank Arts for All committed its largest-ever single donation of $100,000 in February, which saved the first music teacher.
The Burbank Educational Foundation raised $82,000 by the end of the same month in its “Partnering for Success – All in for Burbank” campaign, which secured the second instructor.
The final money needed came via a $65,000 check this month from the Chuck Lorre Family Foundation, which donated $240,000 for other projects in September, $25,000 from the Roosevelt Elementary Booster Club and $3,228 from individual donors.
“We are proud to present the largest grant in our history,” said Tom Vice, co-chair of the Burbank Arts for All Foundation’s board of directors. “While we’re celebrating tonight, we know this grant will not solve all the issues facing BUSD’s arts education, which is why we’re committed to doing more throughout 2019.”
Vice said his foundation has raised an additional $100,000 through its online fundraising gala, giveinsteadgala.com, and hopes the group can reach its $200,000 goal by Sunday.
Ana Connell, vice president of the Burbank Educational Foundation, said her organization’s fundraising hasn’t taken a break.
“We are exceptionally grateful to our community because when we announced [in February] that we were up to $80,000, we didn’t stop there,” Connell said. “We kept going. So, today, we’re bringing out a big check … for $140,000.”
Donations are still being accepted at the foundation’s website, BEFgives.org.
Roosevelt booster club president Krista Zampino said she was thrilled her group could put the fundraising efforts for the elementary music teachers over the top.
“We are honored to be able to present this, the last $25,000 on behalf of Roosevelt Elementary,” she said.
Hill said all money over the total needed to maintain the three music teachers will be donated to the district to help address other cuts.
While teaching positions were salvaged, the district’s school board has not prioritized saving all jobs, such as the district’s director of wellness, director of elementary education and public information officer. Those positions are set to be eliminated at the end of the school year.