Educational Foundation keeps beating the drum

At the Jan. 15 meeting of the La Cañada Unified School District Governing Board, the La Cañada Flintridge Educational Foundation presented the administration with a $1.28 million check. And the organization is continuing its fund-raising efforts with activities planned this year.

Since 1978, the foundation has donated funds to help support district schools, and over the years has provided more than $14 million.

“The Foundation began its mission in 1978 to make up for the inadequate funding received each year from the state of California,” said Graham Stumpf, Foundation president. “Here we are again, in 2008, hearing that the state public education budget will be drastically reduced.”

With Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger's budget announcement, which reported California's $14 billion deficit, La Cañada and other school districts have begun planning for a very difficult year for education. The budget will most likely be cut mid-year and next year will be even deeper cuts.

The Foundation supports class size reduction for kindergarten through third grade, art, drama and music teachers for all elementary schools, the media librarian, guidance counselors at all schools, college counselor at the high school and technology needs.

Stumpf said these programs help the schools remain competitive with private schools. With declining enrollment looming over the district, there is even more pressure to keep the children in public schools.

Stumpf pointed out that the schools in La Cañada are not directly funded by property taxes, but are added to all the taxes collected by the state and then redistributed to school districts. What this means is far less money for communities like La Cañada Flintridge, compared to what the property owners pay in taxes.

That is where the Foundation steps in as a buffer between the shortfall from the state and federal government.

“It is not the district's fault. They have their hands tied by the money that is sent from the state,” Stumpf said. “They try to stretch the dollars.”

According to Stephen Hodgson, acting deputy superintendent of business, the budget will probably be cut mid-year and money will be reduced for class size reduction.

“La Cañada has this very terrific foundation, so they help make up the funding of those dollars that don't come in. They get a boost from the Foundation,” Hodgson said.

The Foundation raises funds throughout the year with events like the Jog-A-Thon, but their largest fundraiser is the Spring Gala that will be taking place March 1. Last year the Foundation raised $400,000 at the Gala, Stumpf said.

“Our community has been visionary in supporting the Foundation and this year we will need a greater commitment from everyone to make up the difference. We are thankful that our community values having a great public school system,” Stumpf said.

To donate to the Foundation visit or call (818) 952-4268.

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