Why should I give now, when we’re in Distance Learning?
Your donation is critical – especially during these extraordinary times. Our District’s transition back to on-campus instruction while still maintaining a robust distance learning program (as required by state law) depends on the small class sizes made possible by your contributions to the Annual Campaign. Your generosity also enables us to provide enrichment programs, continue our focus on providing a truly top-notch education and absorb the additional costs involved in ensuring a safe transition back to campus during the pandemic. We recognize this year doesn’t look like any other in memory and your contribution is more important than ever to ensure our students stay on track!
How does my child benefit?
Studies show a strong and reliable association between higher academic achievement and the study of music and art. They also show a correlation between participation in physical education and classroom performance. In addition, research shows the benefits of smaller class size in learning at the elementary school level. Because the Foundation’s yearly fundraising helps support art, music, PE and smaller class sizes in Portola Valley, your student benefits every day in these and many other ways.
How does a donation compare to the cost of a private school?
Supporting the Foundation, knowing that your donation will help raise your child’s educational experience above the typical public school offerings, is a bargain in comparison to paying for private schools. The cost of private school tuition for the year 2021 on the Peninsula can reach above $50,000 and most private educational institutions request additional annual donations above and beyond that. The Foundation’s suggested donation request of $2,500 per student is a small fraction by comparison.
Why does the Foundation ask for $2,500 per child? Why should I donate when I can’t afford to give at that level?
The $2,500 suggested donation is based on the total amount needed for the District to maintain its current programming. Every child benefits from the Portola Valley Schools Foundation’s support of the District, so we ask that every family donate at a level that is comfortable for them. For some that may be more than the recommended amount, while for others it may be less. If $2,500 per child is more than you can afford, give what you can. All donations of any size are gratefully accepted and appreciated, and we urge all families to contribute – regardless of amount – to demonstrate that our community is unified in its commitment to an excellent education for our children.
Is my donation tax deductible?
Yes, your donation is tax deductible. Our tax ID is 93-1012148.
I pay very high property taxes every year. Isn’t that enough?
The public funding our district receives each year is far lower than comparable high-performing districts across the country. When California voters passed Proposition 13 in 1978, a measure that limits property tax increases for longtime homeowners, and State funding for schools remained low, per-pupil funding for education in California went from among the best to among the worst. So while our housing values are high, educational funding continues to lag behind other states.
As a result of State laws governing equity in public education, less than 25% of the annual property taxes you pay go directly to Corte Madera and Ormondale schools, and that diminished amount makes up the bulk of the district’s revenues.
State funding only accounts for 7% of our District’s annual $15 million budget, and the parcel tax that residents pay accounts for less than 8%. Those two funding sources are not enough to cover salaries, never mind the programs needed to ensure a high-quality education. And the parcel tax, which for 35 years has contributed as much as 10% to the District’s budget, is set to expire in June 2021 with no replacement if it is not renewed.
Bottom line: In California, taxes alone don’t fully fund high-achieving schools, and Districts throughout the state must rely on private contributions to ensure enhanced curriculum, small class sizes and electives. In our community, Foundation funding provides the additional monies needed to give Portola Valley’s children a truly exceptional education.
How are the Annual Campaign and Endowment different?
Funds raised during the Annual Campaign provide roughly 6% of the District’s yearly operating budget. Endowment grants are different in that they fund specific projects and equipment identified by teachers and/or administrators. The Endowment fund, started in 1998, was galvanized into action at the 2000 Gala by a visionary group of nine families.
What kind of programs does the Endowment fund?
The Endowment makes grants in three specific areas: augmenting the core curriculum, supporting excellence in teaching, and providing an engine for innovation. Each grant supports one or more of these objectives and is made in response to specific requests from the district, its teachers or its administrators.
What is FANFare, and if I donate to that, do I also need to donate to the Annual Campaign?
FANFare and the Annual Campaign are separate fundraising initiatives with different purposes.
Annual Campaign donations supplement the District’s yearly budget and support annual operating expenses. For that reason alone, it’s especially important that every family give – every year – to maintain the quality education that our schools provide. Put plainly, the District counts on Annual Fund donations to balance its budget.
FANFare, by contrast, is a Foundation fundraising party, typically held every other year. It includes an auction, buy-in parties, and a “Fund-A-Need” initiative that raises money for specific, one-time, District-wide initiatives agreed upon in advance through a collaborative process between District teachers and leadership and the Foundation board. Past initiatives have included: Maker Labs at both Ormondale and Corte Madera; Science curriculum, training and supplies; and environmental literacy, culturally immersive field trips and math and science festivals.
Because of the pandemic, our planned FANFare event will not take place as planned in Spring 2021, although we hope some smaller event(s) may be possible, circumstances permitting. That means your Annual Campaign contribution is more important to the District than ever this year.
What’s the deal with employer matching, and how does that work with our family’s gift?
Many larger employers offer a corporate matching program that can double (or even triple) employee donations to charitable foundations like the PVSF. These programs are great ways to increase your giving. For help with a corporate match, or if you’re not sure whether your gift is eligible, enter the employer name where indicated on the Foundation donation form. Please note that matching gifts come through a third-party site called Benevity.com. It can take as long as two months to receive confirmation from Benevity, so if our campaign volunteers contact you after you donated through Benevity, please be patient and let them know your contribution is on its way.
Does anyone oversee the District’s finances?
The District implemented a Budget Advisory Committee and an Audit Committee in 2012, greatly improving the transparency and external review of its finances. The Foundation has played a significant role in each of these committees, giving us a better understanding of key decisions and making it easier for us to help the District in ways that are most meaningful for our children. The Foundation is also represented on the Strategic Planning Steering Committee, which provides us insight into the future of our schools and increases our understanding of the District’s overall vision.