By Karen Billing
Some schools take an entire year to fundraise for their parent teacher organization goals — Solana Santa Fe crams a whole year’s worth of fundraising in just a few quick weeks at the beginning of school. The Education Fund Campaign runs through Oct. 31 and the reason behind the big push is so that the donations can be put to work right away.
“The pressure’s on,” said Education Fund Campaign Co-Chair Holly Bauer.
This year’s goal is to raise $230,000 and, according to Bauer and fellow co-chair Nora Balikian, the drive is going strong but they are hoping for more parent participation. Currently 60 percent of families have contributed and they really hope to meet that 100 percent participation goal.
The school has moved away from events and auctions as a way to make money and instead do the drive at the beginning of the year, as well as a separate technology drive in the spring, one that resulted in the purchase of 202 new iPads for the school this fall.
“We took this approach a few years back and this is the only way we raise money,” Balikian said of their fundraising drive efforts. “Our parents said ‘Let us know what you need.’ It’s just easier and it’s worked out well with this community.”
The events they do hold, like the upcoming Nov. 2 donor appreciation party, are solely to celebrate and thank their parent supporters.
“Last year we were pretty successful and we hope we will repeat this year,” said Balikian. “We’ve been lucky that we’re blessed with families who believe in the educational system and this formula.”
The PTO’s fund helps provide science, PE, music and art specialists, as well as various enrichment and cultural projects throughout the year.
“Some parents don’t realize how far the PTO tentacles go,” said Bauer.
On the short list of the extras the PTO provides are the back-to-school barbeque, Books and Beyond reading program, Ocean Week, Red Ribbon Week, the Spring Fling and Art Show, field trips, the Running Coyotes club, science programs and scholarships.
With 370 students, Solana Santa Fe is a “tiny little school” but it does a lot with its budget, Bauer said.
Balikian said that they have ramped up the PTO’s communication with parents to ensure them that their money is being used in the appropriate ways.
“We’re giving our kids a premier education as best as we can. It’s very, very important because we’re a public school and we run like a private school,” said Balikian.
In addition to monetary donations, the school also benefits from parent volunteer time. Parents contribute over 5,000 hours of volunteer time every year, a donation that is “priceless.”
“There is a parent volunteer on campus almost every day,” Bauer said. “That’s a real hallmark of our school…it gives the school a nice, homey feel.”
New for the PTO this year is the launching of a business sponsor program. Local businesses that are appropriate now have the opportunity to sponsor events at the school or advertise in the school directory and yearbook.
“This is a big deal for us,” said Bauer. “This could be quite an additional revenue stream for us.”
They have already had their first three sponsors for events from Solana Santa Fe parent businesses: Le Dimora home furnishings, Sean Barry of Mutual of Omaha Bank, and Kupiec Orthodontics across the street in the Fairbanks Ranch Plaza.
The PTO’s fall donor appreciation party will be held on Nov. 2 at a private home in Fairbanks Ranch for everyone who has donated their fair share level ($500 a student). Sponsorships for that party are still available as well as other events.
To learn more or make a contribution, visit sbsd.k12.ca.us/ssf and click on the PTO link.