Glendale Unified transitions to donations

Glendale Unified School District officials don't expect much financial strain from a new state law that prohibits schools from charging students fees to participate in sports, musical programs and other activities.

The legislation came after the American Civil Liberties Union agreed to settle a lawsuit it filed against state education officials claiming that the fees violated California's Constitution, which guarantees a free public education. John Burroughs High School in Burbank was named in that original complaint. Burbank Unified schools have been struggling to bridge the gap since doing away with the mandatory fees.

But two years ago, when the bill was introduced, Glendale Unified officials made minor changes to reflect the legislation, according to Deputy Supt. John Garcia.

“We did reexamine all our practices. We changed a couple of things,” Garcia said. “We were doing a pretty good job to begin with.”

One of the changes included providing musical instrument rentals to students at no cost.

School officials make a point of asking for donations when they can, in place of charging students fees or requiring supplies.

In elementary schools, Glendale teachers no longer send lists of required supplies home to parents. Instead, teachers ask for donations to fund items for the classroom as a whole.

In Burbank schools, parents had been asked to pay about $150 for transportation costs if their child joined a sports team. Now they're coming up with new ways to raise funds to help fill the gap.

In Glendale, Garcia said transportation costs for athletics programs have been under the district's tab, and team fundraisers still involve the same activities of years past: cookie-dough sales and car-wash events.

Sports programs in Glendale high schools vary in terms of donations and fundraising.

“Those have just become a bigger part of the equation,” Garcia said. “We do accept all the donations we can to continue to support the programs.”

At Rosemont Middle School, school employees sent letters home to parents this year asking for $25 donations to cover equipment for after-school sports programs.

Glendale middle schools each have flag football, soccer and basketball after-school programs.

The Glendale Educational Foundation pays for the cost of buses that take students to away games.

Follow Kelly on Twitter @kellymcorrigan.

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