Parent Teacher Organizations (PTOs) use school foundations to raise money, in many cases writing checks directly funding programs such as choral, art, computers and libraries. In addition, La Jolla’s Torrey Pines Elementary School (TPES) and other schools use the funds to hire support teachers in an effort to reduce class sizes.
During Tuesday’s San Diego Unified School District (SDUSD) board meeting, board members voted to form a committee scrutinizing policies regarding hiring teachers through foundation-raised funding.
SDUSD board member John de Beck said the board intended to set up a policy allowing “funding support for regular district positions that include all the benefits and rights of certificated positions — except tenure and transfer portions — when the source of funds are not regular district monies.”
SDUSD education board members held a special meeting June 16 that included taking “direction” on foundation-funded teachers. Board members voted to form a committee that included representatives from the board, teachers union and foundations, as well as the SDUSD board’s attorneys, in an effort to scrutinize policies regarding school foundations and PTO funding additional staff.
“There is no written policy anywhere on how foundations/PTO are supposed to pay for the staff that they fund,” said Missy Coleman, president of the TPES Foundation. “This item came to the board’s attention in a budget meeting last week and was put on the agenda to address this.”
“[The meeting] is just a discussion with the board and the staff — the board is letting them know what the board’s position is on foundation-funded teachers,” said Josefina Viorato of SDUSD. “There’s been some discussion to funding teachers with foundation money instead of district money, and the board wants to make sure [people understand] what the board’s position is.”
In the midst of budget cuts, parents at many local schools created clever fund-raising events in an effort to replace slashed programs and fill positions — from librarians and nurses to science, art and other instructors.
La Jolla Elementary School’s (LJES) farmers market celebrated its 10th year raising money to fund extra teaching positions in areas such as art, science and music, in addition to buying computers for students, said La Jolla Elementary School PTO President Fran Shimp.
“They [SDUSD school board] should help start parent funds for positions at other schools instead of taking away from our kids,” Shimp said.
Coleman said the TPES foundation — which held its annual gala June 5 — raises money to fund art, science and music teaching positions in addition to providing part-time teaching positions, which reduce class sizes.
Several parents representing groups from San Diego area schools, including Jarabek, Tierrasanta, Kumeyaay, Marshall Middle and Miramar Ranch, said their parent foundations raised money in an effort to fund myriad teaching and supplemental positions.
“The goal should be don’t take away parent groups’ money but to teach other schools how to raise funds,” said Jerabek Elementary School parent representative Donna Cleary.
“If the position is unique and not a district job… then the position should be able to be funded on a one-time basis with a special agreement,” de Beck said. “The current process is for the district to accept the money and then the employee becomes a regular district employee… .”
According to de Beck, current foundation-paid employees are given transfer, tenure and “other union rights.”
“I think we need to negotiate this,” de Beck added.
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