By the RSF Education Foundation
The headlines about the state of education throughout California are daunting. In Carlsbad, school trustees voted to “close two schools, layoff teachers, increase class sizes and reduce training.” In the Poway Unified School District, a public hearing was held “to continue flexibility in staffing at grades 4–8 by waiving Education Code 41376,” and “increase the maximum allowable class size average from 30.9 students to 33 in grades 4-8 through the 2013–2014 school year.” Even with a well established parent funded education foundation, class sizes in another California basic aid district, Los Altos, are as high as 25 in the lower grades (K-3). Due to the budget crisis, California Education Code was modified to allow “the student-teacher ratio in grades K-3 shall be up to 30 to 1” through this school year. That ratio may increase to 33 to 1 next year. Grades 4-6 are allowed a maximum of 34 students.
Without the generosity of the Rancho Santa Fe Education Foundation (RSFEF) our children could be in that very situation or worse. Fortunately, students at R. Roger Rowe School (Ranch School) continue to enjoy average class sizes of 18 in grades K-8. For the third consecutive year, the RSFEF has pledged $1 million to the Ranch School. This contribution is approximately 11 percent of the district’s 2012-2013 budget. The majority of this grant is used to pay for teachers in order to keep class sizes small across all grades K-8. “Right now, in our state, there are budget cuts left and right,” commented Amanda Valentine, a second grade teacher at the Ranch School. “The fact that our school gets to ensure a 20:1 student to teacher ratio is unheard of in any other district in the state.”
Students Needs Are Met
Mrs. Valentine added, “For me as a teacher that means I can give my students individualized instruction and meet with them daily. I can make sure I know my students well and none of their needs go unmet in my classroom.” Veteran Fifth Grade Teacher Steve Riviere concurred, “Last year I had 17 students. It was incredible! It allowed me to give each student the time that they deserve.” Mr. Riviere clearly loves to work here and it is no wonder that he, like many other teachers at our school, is well loved by students and parents.
We are fortunate to retain great teachers like Mrs. Valentine and Mr. Riviere. The low student to teacher ratio helps us recruit high caliber teachers as well.
“Every year at San Diego Unified I had over 32 students. All the support staff had been cut including librarians and paraprofessionals. Some students I would only get to meet with once a week. I felt a little bit guilty sometimes,” noted Jennifer Overstreet, a new fourth grade teacher with 19 students in her class this year at the Ranch School. She taught most recently in the San Diego Unified School District.
“Here, all my students have already been assessed at this point. I know right off the bat each student’s strengths and where I need to push them to excel. With all the support, I can focus on curriculum development and instruction.” Ms. Overstreet added, “I feel so fortunate to be here! I know it’s not the norm.”
Nona Richard, a second grade teacher at the Ranch School, joined us this year from the Vista Unified School District. She offered, “Having 15 students in my class provides the opportunity to uniquely tailor instruction to meet the specific needs of each student, allowing him/her to achieve to full potential. I am encouraged and expected to adapt and scaffold delivery of content to differentiate the learning experience unique to the child. I know of no other district that refines learning to this level, creating an educational experience second to none.” Ms. Richard added, “The small student to faculty ratio here is a teachers’ and parents’ dream!” How fortunate our children are to have such enthusiastic teachers! You can hear the enthusiasm in their voices.
Retain These Incredible Teachers
Of note, last year 95 percent of all staff at the Ranch School contributed to the RSFEF, a testament to how much they love to work here.
“As a teacher I feel I am given the support to do my job. That’s basically the reason why I continue to work here,” stated Mr. Riviere. Please help us retain these incredible teachers.
The RSF Education Foundation is asking that each family contribute their “Fair Share” cost per child of $1,609 ($1 million divided by 640 students) or to the best of their ability. This year the Cap and Gown level is $2,000 per student and the Benefactor level is $3,000 per student. The Foundation also relies heavily on the philanthropic contributions of the Scholars’ Circle members. This group comprises 20 percent of the school’s families and local businesses who make multi-year commitments of $35,000 or more that fund 50 percent of the total grant to the school.
Contribute by Red Envelope Friday
Please contribute to the RSFEF by Friday, Sept. 28, 2012 – Red Envelope Friday. RSF Education Foundation Chair Glenn Oratz remarked, “Everyone should feel proud to participate at
anylevel that is appropriate for your family and be a part of supporting our school.” All school families are encouraged to participate. Community and corporate donations are also encouraged.
For questions or more information, please go to www.rsfef.org or contact the Education Foundation at 858-756-1141 x208. Be proud to participate. The difference is you.