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Community organizations are giving thousands in donations to local schools in an attempt to fill gaps in education funding caused by the state’s budget crisis.

The Glendale Educational Foundation offered the latest gift Tuesday, announcing $90,000 to fund art materials for Glendale Unified School District elementary school teachers, including DVD lessons and visual aids to help instructors incorporate art into their classes.

PTAs, alumni associations and foundations at individual schools have also stepped forward, funding computer labs, software and student activities.

Similar gifts have come to the district in the past, but the value of each contribution has grown as educators become increasingly cash-strapped and incapable of paying for programs and materials that are nice additions, but become secondary expenses when administrators have to plan for educational progress in the face of cuts, Supt. Michael Escalante said.

Without the donations from community groups, “you wouldn’t have a lot of frills on the end — the little special things that make school special for kids,” Escalante said.

The foundation’s gift for arts curricula and supplies was meant to have a continual impact, instead of a cash donation that would support only a temporary boost or improvement, said John Sadd, president of the organization.

“The foundation’s contribution helps by putting programs and equipment into the schools that the schools would otherwise be unable to provide,” Sadd said.

The group spent $150,000 on cardiovascular exercise equipment that was installed in each district middle and high school in 2008 and has raised a total of $100,000 for the creation of a digital arts and animation academy at Glendale High School, he said.

Plans for the academy are still under development, but the goal of making contributions that continue to benefit students year after year has been the foundation’s central concern, he said.

Other parent and community groups have taken on the same cause with renewed urgency.

Parents at Mountain Avenue Elementary School raised money to pay for a new computer lab, and the PTA at Rosemont Middle School gave $13,000 for new books and software for the school library.

At Hoover High School, alumni association Purple Circle has organized two eBay auction fundraisers to make up for shortages at the school. The second auction will begin this week, with more than 100 items to be sold online to support activities for student organizations, group member Vic Bedrossian said.

With the district facing millions in cuts that could decimate its $21.3-million reserve fund and force it to cut down on expenses like art supply, textbook or printing costs, community contributions play a major role in keeping school offerings available, Escalante said.

The response from residents who have come forward with financial support during the recession has been remarkable, he said.

“It validates us,” he said. “That the community is able to stand up and provide resources says a lot.”


 ZAIN SHAUK covers education. He may be reached at (818) 637-3238 or by e-mail at zain.shauk@latimes.com.

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