In 1991, two school ballot measures were passed by an overwhelming majority of citizens in San Mateo and Foster City. The measures provided funds to the San Mateo-Foster City School Elementary District to expand and renovate existing facilities and to add new staff to reduce class sizes and accommodate growing enrollment. Though the passage of these measures greatly enhanced the learning environment for all children, more funds were needed to ensure educational excellence, add new programs, and support the diverse population of both San Mateo and Foster City. To achieve these goals, The San Mateo-Foster City Community Education Foundation was created to provide the community with an organized vehicle to provide funds to improve education, nicknamed “for kids!”.
The Foundation was established in 1992 as a non-profit organization committed to benefiting every child in the school district. Its all-volunteer membership was comprised of business leaders, community members, parents, and school district employees.
The school district has received $3 million of financial support since the Foundation was created.
Initially, funds were raised through an Annual Campaign, as well as a yearly dinner/dance and auction, Bids For Kids. The focus of the financial support then was on library materials, multimedia equipment, computers, and arts and cultural enrichment programs.
“Save Our Programs”
In 2002, as a result of severe budget shortfalls from the state, the school district faced the possibility of overwhelming program cuts. A group of parents in the district created an emergency fundraising initiative called Save Our Programs. With the help of the Education Foundation, many of these programs were saved, but this undertaking also changed the fundraising goals of the Foundation. Now, rather than raising funds solely for instructional materials, the Foundation was also charged with supporting programs and personnel.
Over the last decade, the Foundation has supplied funding for K-5 Classroom Music, GATE Program support, the Elementary School Counseling Center, Middle School After-School Sports, and 5th grade Instrumental Music. Since 2007, the Foundation, in addition to new fundraising projects such as a district-wide phone bank, also hired an Executive Director.
Yet the San Mateo-Foster City School District continued to face a difficult financial environment. An economic downturn that lowered property tax revenue meant ever greater cuts from the state. In 2008-11, the school district eliminated over $20 million from its budget. The Foundation was asked to do more with fewer donated funds and focused its giving on supplementing funding for library staffing and 5th grade Instrumental Music. The 5th grade Instrumental Music program is now completely funded by the Foundation.
In Fall 2009 the Foundation hosted an Educational Forum featuring the award winning documentary California Schools: America’s Future followed by a distinguished panel discussion moderated by School Board Trustee Lory Lawson. Panelists included San Mateo-Foster City Superintendent Dr. Pendery Clark, former State Superintendent Delaine Eastin, former San Mateo County Superintendent Dr. Jean Holbrook and former State Assemblyman Gene Mullin. This discussion not only raised awareness of the financial challenges faced by California public school districts, but also alerted the public to the importance of our own district’s Measure A campaign to extend and raise a parcel tax. That campaign’s success in February 2010 resulted in about $6 million per year for the General Fund for the next 7 years.
In March 2010 the Foundation convened a Vision 2020 Workshop that led directly to the development of a strategic plan and recruitment of a talented new Board of Directors to take us in an exciting new direction. We’re proud to present our new logo and website representing a newly revitalized and energized organization. We look forward to your feedback and participation as we work together to support an excellent education for all 11,000 students in our district.