Fri12192014

News

Educational foundations get to work


Anna WEldon/Special To the Town Crier
Superintendent Tim Justus takes part in Los Altos Educational Foundation fundraising last year at Oak Avenue School.

Back to school means back to fundraising for Mountain View and Los Altos educational foundations.

The Los Altos Educational Foundation (LAEF), which serves the Los Altos School District, and the Mountain View-Los Altos High School Foundation, which serves schools in the Mountain View-Los Altos Union High School District, aim to meet financial goals to provide essential programs for the districts.

"We are funding programs that otherwise disappear," said Cindy Anderson, a member of the MVLA foundation. "We are funding things that parents think are very important."

This year, the MVLA foundation intends to raise $650,000 - $50,000 more than last year - for the high school district. The foundation is asking for parents to contribute $600 per district student.

The foundation hosts a phone-a-thon each fall where volunteers call every household of a district student to ask for a donation and describe the services the foundation provides. This year's phone-a-thon is scheduled for Sept. 19-20.

About half the funds raised by the MVLA foundation go toward reducing the class-size ratio for freshman English and math to 20 children per teacher. According to the foundation, without its funding, class size would be closer to 30:1. Funds collected make the district is eligible for state matching money earmarked for class-size reduction.

Other initiatives funded by the MVLA foundation include tutorial centers, college and career centers, technology replacements and upgrades, research database access, extended library hours and instructional materials for Alta Vista High School classes.

LAEF is aiming to raise $1.55 million this year, and hopes parents will contribute $800 per district student.

"Our goal is to get 100 percent of the parents to participate," said Mike Maciag, president of LAEF. "Living in Los Altos is wonderful because people step up and make their contributions."

The foundation sends parents informational flyers in back-to-school packets and sponsors speeches at back-to-school nights. Maciag said LAEF has the most success in fundraising during its phone-a-thon, scheduled this year for Oct. 16-18. Maciag said the foundation also receives money through parents who work at large corporations such as Google and Cisco, which provide matching funds toward LAEF efforts.

LAEF is sponsoring two new programs in Los Altos schools this fall. An improved hands-on science instruction for fourth- to eighth-graders will use digital resources, including data collection, analysis tools and software, to offer students more in-depth exploration of science standards.

Also new this year is the Step Up to Writing Program, which follows a successful pilot program in Los Altos schools last year. Students in junior high and upper-grade elementary schools will use digital resources to facilitate student self-editing and provide more opportunity for individualized and timely teacher feedback on writing assignments.

"The fall is a very important time to contribute to the schools across the organizations," Maciag said. "The foundation, the PTA and the parcel tax, all those things are what keep up the standards of education in Los Altos."

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