mythbusters

In today’s busy world, it is sometimes hard to distinguish between fact and fiction. But we are here to help!

What follows are some of the most common misconceptions about The Giving Campaign and school funding in general. The goal is to help families and the community understand why it is essential to not only support the campaign, but to donate.

Our students are depending on you.

I donated to the Parents Club - is that the same thing?

No. The Giving Campaign funds integral, ongoing programs at all six schools, while the Parents’ Clubs fund important site-specific programming not included in the PUSD budget. By donating to the Giving Campaign, a vital stream of funding for PUSD, you are supporting the necessary programs that make our schools so special: libraries, librarians, counselors, AP/honors classes, teacher aides, technology, art, music, professional development, innovation and strategic planning. These are programs often not funded in other districts due to state budget deficiencies; we are grateful they can be part of our children’s experience. Historically, the Giving Campaign has contributed ~7% of PUSD’s annual budget. 

I volunteer to serve school lunch - is that part of the Giving Campaign?

Thank you for serving school lunch to our kids! Volunteers are essential to running many of the programs that make Piedmont schools so special. The school lunch program is not part of the Giving Campaign. The elementary schools’ hot lunch program is 100% parent-run, and the district earns $1 on each meal purchased. The middle and high school lunch programs are run by the district and do not raise funds, but they do rely on parent volunteers to keep operating costs down. To learn more, please reach out to your school’s lunch program leads.

I donated last year to the Giving Campaign; do I need to give again?

Thank you for donating last year! The Giving Campaign is an annual campaign to raise funds each year which help cover the shortfall from state funding. This year, the need between what we receive from state and local funding, and what it costs to educate our students, is $1,775 per child. The Giving Campaign aims to cover this difference.  

I donate at Spring Fling or March Mingle, so I feel like I already give to the schools.

Thank you for your support! While Spring Fling and March Mingle are extremely important to our elementary and middle schools, please consider also giving to the Giving Campaign, which is PUSD’s largest annual fundraiser. Spring Fling and March Mingle raise critical dollars for the elementary and middle schools – a combined total of $450,000 last year – whereas the 2018-19 Giving Campaign raised $2.8 million. Giving Campaign contributions allow PEF to provide the district with funds where they will have the greatest impact for all students. Participation in the Giving Campaign demonstrates to our teachers, staff and the greater Piedmont community how much Piedmont parents support our schools. 

I already give to the Giving Campaign via the parcel tax.

The school parcel tax and Giving Campaign are separate revenue streams and both are essential to the overall PUSD budget. 63% of our budget comes from the state, over 25% from the parcel tax and 7% from PEF fundraisers like the Giving Campaign. The rest comes from other local sources and additional fundraising. The parcel tax is paid by every homeowner in Piedmont, regardless of whether or not they have children in the schools. The Piedmont community has voted to approve a school parcel tax for over 30 years since it is essential to maintain excellence in our schools and keep Piedmont property values up. Unfortunately, parcel taxes alone are not enough given the state’s uncertain funding, so additional support through the Giving Campaign and other fundraisers is essential to maintain our schools’ educational excellence.

The Giving Campaign money helps the (elementary/middle/high) school more, so why should I give?

Dollars raised by the Giving Campaign benefit every single student in PUSD throughout their entire school experience, from TK-12. This year, PEF contributed about $1.5 million for use at Beach, Havens, and Wildwood, and $1.5 million for PMS, PHS and MHS. Moreover, the Giving Campaign receives approximately the same number and amount of contributions from elementary school parents as from secondary school parents (as well as additional funds from community members without children in the schools). So there is a balance on both the giving, and spending, sides of the equation! 

If the gap is $1,775 per student - and I have 3 kids - is it really $5,325 shortfall for family?

Yes. Each year, PEF and PUSD work together to create a financial statement which shows how much funding we receive FROM the state and from local parcel taxes, and how much we need to spend to run Piedmont’s excellent educational programs. The difference between these numbers is divided by the number of students enrolled for the coming year. This year the need is $1,775 per student. If you have more than one child in Piedmont schools, please keep this in mind when you are making your donation, and give as you are able.

I’m concerned that my donation will be made public.

PEF takes your privacy seriously. Very few people have access to gift amounts, and all of those who do have signed, and abide by, agreements to not disclose information. In the spirit of “it is important that you give, not what you give,” in public disclosures, all contributions between $1 and $4,999 are listed in one category, alphabetically. Actual contribution amounts are not published. You can also choose to donate anonymously, to not have your contribution category published, or both.

I volunteer a lot for the schools, so I should not also have to give money.

Volunteering in our schools is a wonderful way to provide support, but we also need all the funds we can raise to help close the gap between what we receive from state and local funding, and what it costs to educate our children. What is required to provide our children with a well-rounded and rigorous education is far greater than funding from the state, and this can only be covered by financial donations.  And remember, the campaign’s goal is 100% participation at whatever level is meaningful for your family.

My card gets charged monthly so I don’t have to renew my gift each year.

The Giving Campaign does not have an ongoing billing option, so contributions from previous years do not carry forward, even if you were paying in installments last year.  Once PEF sets up automatic deductions, it no longer has access to your credit card. You can make a new pledge this year that is due monthly over 10 months if that works best for your family.  For example, if you wanted to give $1,775 (the budget shortfall for each child), you can spread it out over a 10-month period and pay $177.50 per month. This option will be complete in 10 months, and then you will need to set up a new pledge for the next year. 

I can’t give that much this fall when I have so many other expenses.

The Giving Campaign allows you to pledge now and then decide when and how you make your gift.  Paying a certain amount per month over an 8 to 10-month period is a great way to spread out the payments over time. Or, if you would like to give at a specific point in the future, or want to give through payroll deduction or by stock transfer, just let the PEF office know so they can count your pledge today and set up your payment plan. Making your pledge early helps PEF and PUSD plan the budget for the following year.

How will the Giving Campaign help improve the morale of teachers?

The cost of living in the Bay Area continues to increase, while school funding from the state of California does not.  Many teachers are finding it difficult to afford rent and other necessities. While the state may not demonstrate that they value teachers, Piedmont does.  Both the Giving Campaign and the Parcel Tax, that together comprise approximately 35% of the district’s budget, help to fund teacher salaries. 95% of the funds PEF grants to PUSD fund teachers and staff.  The more we raise, the more we can give to attract and retain the best teachers for our kids.  Please note that this issue is also being addressed by Measures G&H, up for public vote on November 5th. For more information, please visit yesongandh.org.

There are a lot of people in Piedmont who are wealthier than me and will take care of things.

Each dollar has a direct impact on our schools. Our main goal is to have 100% Giving Campaign parent participation in order to demonstrate to teachers, staff and the community how committed we are to our schools. While some community members are able to make larger contributions, our need remains great.  Every gift – of any size – helps, and is appreciated.

I thought public school was free, why am I constantly being asked for money?

Public school is free, but a great public school education is not. Piedmont schools provide a first-rate public education – we are ranked #1 in Northern California – but government funds alone do not get us there. Our schools are excellent because our community continues to contribute through the parcel tax, the Giving Campaign, and in so many other ways.  Government funds no longer provide the high-quality standard of education that we have come to expect from PUSD. In order to maintain and build upon the academic excellence of Piedmont schools, which draws families to Piedmont and keeps property values high, PUSD must seek additional funding through the Giving Campaign.

How do I know that the administration won’t mishandle the funds raised?

One of the reasons PEF was established was to provide oversight into how contributions are used in the school district; all donated funds flow through PEF. Every single dollar that PEF then grants to PUSD is tracked and accounted for. A committee of Piedmont parents and community members, including members of each Parents’ Club and Support Group board, meets each year to learn more about the district’s needs and to distribute the funds raised. PUSD then reports back on how funds were spent.

How do I know how the donated funds are being spent?

PUSD and PEF both strive to make their financials as transparent as possible. PEF publishes its budget and financial statements on its website. PUSD publishes this information as it is updated on its School Board meeting page. The PUSD school board meets twice monthly, and the Budget Advisory Committee (that reviews the financial health, disseminates information and makes recommendations) meets monthly. All of these meetings are open to the public, and the community is encouraged to attend them to learn more about PUSD finances and how funds are spent.

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