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School foundation critical as state cuts education funding

Roseville City School District Foundation elects new president, hopes to better engage community
By: Sena Christian, The Press Tribune
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For a couple years, all 4th graders in the Roseville City School District attended performances at the Mondavi Center for the Performing Arts in Davis. The experience, intended to introduce students to the arts, wouldn’t have been possible without the financial backing of the Roseville City School District Foundation, established in 2005 to “enhance, expand and enrich the education of Roseville children.” The volunteer-run, nonprofit group accomplishes these goals by awarding mini-grants to teachers to pay for field trips, math curriculum tools, fitness equipment, school theater productions and more in the district’s 17 elementary and middle schools, which serve more than 9,500 students. The foundation also deposits 20 percent of all money raised into an endowment account, which currently has about $30,000. “We’re a relatively new foundation,” said outgoing President Stanford Hirata. “We’re finding out what the district needs and how we can provide it.” One of those needs turned out to be technological upgrades. To meet that need, the foundation launched a $1.2 million initiative to purchase SMART boards — interactive, electronic whiteboards — for all 4-8th grade classrooms. “With how fast technology is changing and how fast resources are dwindling, the role of the foundation is critical,” said incoming President Megan MacPherson. Board members elected MacPherson to the position Monday. Her two children attend Stoneridge Elementary School. For her day job, she works as communications manager for the City of Roseville. “I (wanted to be president) because I know that funding is always a challenge and I like the mission of the foundation,” she said. Foundations such as this one play an especially vital role as California’s state deficit has resulted in dramatically reduced allocations to public education. Funding to education was cut from $50.3 billion in 2007-08 to $44.6 billion in 2009-10. About 60 percent of a district’s operating funds come from the state, which means when California faces a financial crisis so do its public schools. The foundation hosts two signature fundraising events annually. The 5K Fun Run held in May raised $8,000. The Dine and Dash — a two-part progressive dinner — takes place in October. A foundation differs from Parent Teacher Associations because it applies to all schools in the district, while PTAs serve specific sites. Schools don’t necessarily all have access to the same resources or level of parent participation. “We ensure that students at all the schools have the same access to enrichment and technology no matter where they live in Roseville,” MacPherson said. During her tenure, MacPherson plans to focus on three objectives, which starts with engaging the community to increase parent, business and civic group involvement. Secondly, she aims to raise awareness about the foundation’s activities. She also wants to establish a stronger volunteer base focused on fundraising efforts. “We want to make this a sustainable organization so teachers know they have another source of funding they can count on,” she said. She said the Eureka Schools Foundation, which covers schools in Roseville and Granite Bay, is considered the local benchmark of an effective foundation. ESF recently donated more than $500,000 to fund libraries, computer technology, music, band, choir, foreign language and athletics for the upcoming school year. MacPherson said she is ready to take on the challenges to make her foundation equally successful. “I’m excited Megan is taking over,” Hirata said. “When we found Megan and (saw) her enthusiasm for the job and diligence in preparing for the job, I was thrilled.” Sena Christian can be reached at senac@goldcountrymedia.com. ---------- Roseville City School District Foundation President: Megan MacPherson Vice President: Holly Harper Treasurer: Wendy Gerig Secretary: Suzy Vose ---------- To find out how to get involved with the Roseville City School District Foundation, contact President Megan MacPherson at meganmacpherson@me.com. For more information, visit www.rcsdfoundation.org.