You get what you pay for … and we need your support now!

By Bill Gaylord

Rancho Santa Fe Education Foundation chair

Is it possible to raise $1,000,000 for the Rancho Santa Fe School to provide our children with a world class education? I believe the answer is “YES”! However, Lee Corso, the ESPN college football analyst might quip, “Not so fast, my friend!”

Here are the current figures as of Dec. 1, 2011:

• Grant commitment to R. Roger Rowe School: $1,000,000

• Cash in the door: $676,469

• Cash needed to reach grant: $323,531

• Participation rate: 70% (Goal 100%)

One can look at the numbers above and say, “Wow! We are already two-thirds of the way towards our goal and its only November!” Not so fast, my friend! I see it as “Oh noooo…, we are only two-thirds of the way there!” Why do I say that? There are two reasons:

1) Virtually all of our marketing and contribution requests are front end loaded at the beginning of the school year.

2) Historically, the contributions raised by the remaining families who have not contributed, as yet, are typically less than those who have already given.

When we dig deeper into the figures, the picture gets a little brighter. If we include pledges that have been made to the school, but not yet received as cash, our potential contribution dollars increase to $876,958. This number sounds so much better than $676,469. However, these are receivables and unfortunately some small level of people don’t meet their commitments. My best guess is the real number as of December 1st is approximately $850,000. Thus, our deficit is around $150,000.

The heavy lifting has just begun! The next phase of our fundraising is focused on convincing the non-contributors what their children get with the benefit of the RSF Education Foundation (RSFEF) and the Five-Star education. It may be better to let them know what they don’t get if we can’t raise funds.

It is baffling to me at times why parents have not contributed as yet. I have heard many reasons why and most I really do not understand. Some say, “It is a public school and it is not required. My tax money is enough.” I don’t buy it as we now live in a different education environment. Other reasons that come up include being upset at administration and teachers, and the perceived “aggressive” nature the RSFEF goes about fundraising. Another excuse is they don’t believe our school is budgeting wisely and overspending. In my opinion, this is silly given my experience in working with the school administration. In my opinion, withholding parent support of your child’s education is not the appropriate manner to address these issues.

The fact is that almost nothing is free. The old expression “You get what you pay for.” applies in this case. Public education, as we used to know it, is long gone. Public funding at every school in the country is not sufficient to provide the type of education we all want for our children. State funding is now non-existent and the revenue our school receives from real estate taxes has declined dramatically. What are the choices? Either cut teachers and staff, which accounts for 90% of the school budget, or raise funds from the parents and local community. I believe that ALL of the parents at R. Roger Rowe want the best education for their children.

Our participation goal from parents is 100%. We truly believe and hope this is, and should be, attainable. Right now, it is hard for me to understand that 30 out of 100 parents have still not contributed. The lack of participation is a slippery slope. It can create a disconnect between those generous contributors who may start to feel that they are paying for other children’s education. Will they continue to contribute in the future or pull back and let others carry the burden.

OK…enough of my guilt talk, scare tactics, and arm twisting. Now back to why I think we can raise $1,000,000 and what we need to do. It is imperative that we pull together as a school and parent community and create a discussion among all families that it is not a “nice to give”, it is a “need to give.” We’re all in this together!

Back to the numbers…the RSFEF suggests a fair share contribution of $1,497 per student. This is a bargain! It pencils out to about $8 per day for each student.

I know it is possible to make our $1,000,000 grant. We realize that everyone has a different financial situation and are truly sensitive to this. That said, it is critically important that every parent contribute to the best of their ability.

It is important for those who have already contributed that gave less than “Fair Share”, but can afford to give more, to step up. It is important for those that have the mindset that if they can’t give at the Fair Share level, they won’t give at all. They need to step up to what they can afford. For the very small group of people that simply cannot, please contribute emotionally and get involved with the school by volunteering in the classroom or becoming involved on our Leadership Team. It is unacceptable to sit back and let others do it for you! We ALL have the ability to influence our children’s education and can make a significant difference in their life now and into the future.

I am so proud to represent the parents as the chair of the RSFEF and will do what I can to help all of our children benefit from a world class education. The administration and staff is amazing and my respect for what they do grows every day. We sincerely thank all of those who have contributed already and welcome new contributors with open arms. It is not too late. Always remember…”the difference is you!”

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