In Oak Park, we are finding ourselves in a paradoxical situation!
It’s a surprise to many that even though our school district is one of the highest achieving school systems in California, we receive the fewest dollars per student. In fact, Oak Park Schools receive less state funding than all of our neighboring districts. Schools that serve greater numbers of disadvantaged students receive significantly higher levels of funding than school systems that do not. What we do receive is completely insufficient to cover the high quality education that our students need. School districts like ours are forced to either raise local revenues or accept mediocrity.
In Oak Park our parcel tax provided extra support for 13 years. As you know, we lost the renewal vote last spring by 25 votes out of over 3000 votes cast, which instantly struck $870,000 from our budget; funds designated for class size reduction. We were forced to increase class size when school opened this year.
There are four ways to finance public education in addition to state funding. They include bond measures, parcel taxes, adding students by becoming a District of Choice school, and contributions to PTOs, Booster clubs and local school foundations. Almost all school districts benefit from businesses and even major corporations located within their districts. Oak Park does not have that advantage. Oak Park also lacks contributions that come from local cities, which all of our neighboring districts have.
In addition to judiciously sparing expenses at every level, our community of parents, staff and friends of Oak Park Schools recognize that we must become more strategic in our fundraising if we want to maintain Oak Park’s standing as one of the best communities in Southern California for families desiring an exceptional educa- tion for their children.
We must have your help to better prepare our students with tools to thrive in today’s world and constantly evolving future workforce. Your support can directly impact our ability to:
- Reduce class sizes in all grades, K-12;
- Provide more counselor support at all levels;
- Develop the latest in STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math) enrichment programs — programs that are continuously advancing with new technologies and scientific discoveries;
- Support our highly innovative reading and writing programs which are one of the major attractions for parents
The recently released California Dashboard, which is the state’s new accountability system for schools, shows that Oak Park Schools have once again come out at the very top in the state; outperforming districts throughout the state such as Palo Alto, Palos Verdes, Manhattan Beach, Beverly Hills, La Cañada, and significantly outperforming our local neighboring districts.
We were so fortunate that our local community approved the Measure S bond initiative one year ago. The solar panels that we have added to the schools with these funds are saving our general fund hundreds of thou- sands of dollars a year. Monies that we don’t spend on utilities can be used to support teachers and students. We are embarking on a comprehensive school modernization plan that will include replacing aging portable class- rooms and creating new types of learning spaces that match our educational philosophy. However, Measure S bond funds can only be used for facility improvements, not what happens inside the classroom.
Imagine for a minute our community without schools that rank in the top 1% in the state. The quality of our schools ensures a high demand for residency and a continued high quality of life.
For over 40 years Oak Park schools have served our learning community because parents and the community have supported visionary schools that deliver beyond expectations. We are committed to continued excellence, award winning standards and results. However, we cannot maintain this stature without your help! It is simply impossible to deliver these levels of excellence without sufficient resources. The alternative will lower our standards.
Please consider a gift at one of these levels:
- $ 197 – the amount of the parcel tax that is no longer assessed
- $ 365 – one dollar per day
- $1000 – probably 1/40th the annual tuition for one child in a quality private school, indicative of the costs of providing a high quality education like that of Oak Park Schools.
- $2500 – the amount that is asked annually of parents by school foundations in La Cañada, Manhattan Beach, and Beverly Hills; districts that do not perform as well as Oak Park using the multiple measures on the California School Dashboard.
The partnerships we have with our educators, parents, and community are what make our schools exceptional. If you have any questions as to what your support does and how it impacts the quality of education in this district, please feel free to contact either one of us. We welcome the opportunity for you to know your school district and its strengths.
Recognizing that you have many demands, we thank you for your consideration of making a generous and meaningful tax deductible gift through the Oak Park Education Foundation during this calendar year. Our Tax ID number is: 58-2676917. You can also pledge an amount payable in installments or in full by June 30.