For the past half-decade, Las Virgenes has weathered the perfect storm of state budget cuts and declining enrollment. Since 2004, enrollment has dropped by 10% and funding has collapsed by nearly $7 million. The result is a net loss of nearly $11million annually – or roughly $1,000 per student, per year.
While recent state funding has brought some positive change, current projections still show that unless California dramatically increases funding, Las Virgenes will deplete its reserves within five years. We need a new vision for growing the funding base. Past “emergency” funding campaigns and continued pleas to parents to fund everything from sports programs to technology purchases will not address our systemic funding gap and multi-million dollar deficit spending. To ensure we continue to have the resources necessary for success we must tackle a two-pronged e_ ort that grows funding through public/private partnerships and addresses our student attrition rates.
Unleashing The Power Of Public/Private Partnerships
Our first step needs to be with our business community. As the greatest benefactors of a highly educated workforce, the businesses that thrive off of our community must be immersed into a culture of sustained giving to support the core of what makes our cities great places to work and raise families: our schools.
Understanding our systemic unmet needs, I have offered a plan to organize our district and engage our business community through a sustained giving campaign that will begin to close the gap in funding. All we need to do is look 30 miles south to see the power of public/private partnerships in action. The Manhattan Beach education foundation plays a formidable role in supporting the school district by donating more than $5 million in 2013.
Our Board must lead an aggressive district-wide initiative that builds on the partnership with our existing non-profi t organization “T.H.E. Foundation” to ensure that everyone understands and plays an active role in addressing our community’s unfunded education needs.
Combatting Student Attrition
In addition to developing a culture of giving, we must address declining enrollment. Aside from the impacts of stagnate home sales and decreasing populations of school age children – the Board can have an impact on addressing the attrition rates of current families who choose to enroll in neighboring districts.
If elected, one of my first actions will be to build internal awareness for why we are losing students and then deliver on a plan for what we must do to retain them – at every level. Improved curriculum offerings, sports programs and other extracurricular support must all be on the table as we compete with neighboring districts for the financial life blood of our schools: student enrollment.
Board members cannot change California’s funding scheme. As a fiscally conservative watchdog of public funds I understand and appreciate the need for our schools to live within their means. I also appreciate the need to continue to smartly invest in our schools for our future success. To do this we must elect leaders with a commitment and a plan to both grow funding as well as increase student enrollment.