Wednesday: Day to celebrate, donate to schools


Parents and students will be seeing lots of red on Nov. 3, but it won't be anger driving the phenomenon. Red balloons, red signs, red T-shirts, and lots of kids dressed to match will be part of the celebratory spirit of Foundation Day, sponsored by the Menlo Park-Atherton Education Foundation.

On that day, the foundation will be pumping up the volume on its appeal to the community to make donations to the nonprofit organization, which offers a growing amount of financial support to the four schools in the Menlo Park City School District: Encinal, Laurel, Oak Knoll and Hillview Middle.

There will be volunteers and students at all four campuses passing out foundation literature and accepting donations during drop-off and pickup times on that day, according to foundation volunteer Valerie Ambwani.

The foundation donated a record $2.35 million to the schools in the last school year, and this year, foundation leaders say their goal is $2.5 million. That's because with growing enrollment, declining revenue, and state funding cuts, the district has far fewer resources to support programs beyond the basics, they say.

About 8 percent of the district's budget comes from the foundation, according to Alison Leupold, who with Scott Lohmann co-chairs the organization.

One purpose of Foundation Day is to remind parents who have been meaning to write a check to do so and turn it in that day, she added.

In the past, the foundation has sponsored similar annual events, but without as much fanfare. Ms. Leupold noted that with the completion or near-completion of construction projects on three campuses -- and the groundbreaking of the project to rebuild Hillview -- the school community has much to celebrate.

The foundation's contributions to the schools have been responsible for retention of teachers and credentialed librarians at all four schools; enrichment programs such as music, art, and hands-on science; the Hillview Academy program, which allows the middle school to maintain smaller learning environments for students in the face of burgeoning enrollment; and teacher innovation, supported through programs such as the Jeanie Ritchie Grants.

Go to MPAEF for more information about the foundation.

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Posted by Ano Nymous
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Nov 2, 2010 at 6:18 am

Seriously, what do they do with all this cash? We just got pimped for Measure C, and already they're harrassing people for yet more.

I went to school in an area where there were no big businesses, foundations, VC's and rich entrepreneurs donating millions to the schools, and yet these schools still managed to get by quite nicely on their basic government funding.

Meanwhile, while this district may produce better outcomes than many others in California, look at the competition: 49th best in the country, while spending more on schools than nearly every other State in the nation.

Besides, teaching around here should be a snap, given the focus on liberal indoctrination. It's much easier to teach kids what to think than how to think, and our local schools clearly focus on the former.

Like this comment
Posted by Off Base
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Nov 2, 2010 at 2:43 pm

"Ano Nymous" you are so off base, it's obvious you were not educated in a school district that invested heavily into a child's education. No one is doing any "harassing". In fact, many people of this community, who don't even have kids, GLADLY give to the Foundation because it is a major part of why our homes are worth what they are worth. If you don't think so, go next door and buy a similar sized home, with a similar sized lot, and you tell us what you paid for in Redwood City?! Just "getting by" is not what this community wants, nor deserves. The only thing the Foundation can do is to attempt to make people aware of why the District needs money, and then do the best they can to fund the District. By the way, 87% of the District's dollars go to labor, so they are run in a very efficient way. Your comment about VC's and rich entrepreneurs donating "millions to the schools" is again so far off base, you have no clue who or what donates money to this District. I think the Foundation would LOVE to have "rich entrepreneurs and VC's donating millions..." but you again have no clue what you are talking about. Again, in Menlo Park we spend less per child than Palo Alto, Woodside AND Portola Valley, AND much less than majority of the states. So, where are you getting your information? I wish you would come to this forum with at least some facts, before you start spewing ridiculous false comments about our fantastic school system that has made you wealthy (if you own a home) and is supported by majority of our community. Did you know that Measure C, your "pimped" Parcel Tax, was supported by better than 70% of the community? Nope, I didn't think you knew that.

Like this comment
Posted by District Parent
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Nov 3, 2010 at 1:18 pm

Dear "Ano Nymous",

Where are you getting your information?! My kids go to Oak Knoll and Hillview and I can assure you that they are absolutely learning HOW to think, not WHAT to think. And teaching should be a snap? Try telling that to a teacher with 28 kids in a class, all with different abilities, learning styles, needs, and strengths. One of the reasons our schools are good is because we hire good teachers. Good teachers = good education. Getting good teachers means finding, hiring, training, and keeping good teachers. Thanks to the MPAEF we can do that.

I think you have the Menlo Park public schools mixed up with the local schools that DO get gobs of money from corporations, VCs, etc. Corporate donations to the MPAEF are extremely modest, whereas schools like Phillips Brooks, Menlo, Castilleja, and Sacred Heart have money pouring in by the bucketful. Why? One, because parents are told that the $35,000 they pay per year doesn't come close to the actual costs of educating their students - while MP schools manage to do it for less than $11,000 per student. And two, because that's where the kids of corporate scions go to school.

The MPAEF's endowment stands at about $2M - money generously contributed by a number of families 5 years ago in increments of about $5K. Menlo School's endowment is $21.3M. The MPCSD has 2700 student, Menlo has about 750. Hmmm...that's $740 per kid versus $28,000.

If you want to know "what they do with all this cash" then read about it here:Web Link.

Seems like the fabulous schools you went to didn't teach you how to do your homework. The good news for you is that it is never to late to become better educated.

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