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Auburn foundation hopes to keep school district strong

Community donates thousands so far
By: Bridget Jones, Journal Staff Writer
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The Auburn community has donated thousands of dollars to its local school district, and residents say offering students a strong education is a top priority. In mid-January the Auburn Education Foundation sent out 2,000 letters to close to 4,000 identified supporters of Measure L, according to Rob Haswell of Citizens for a Stronger Auburn. The letter asked Measure L supporters to consider donating at least $59, which would have been the yearly cost of the parcel tax if it had passed in the November election. Potential donators also have the option of giving as much as or more than $295, the equivalent revenue that one parcel owener would have paid for the failed tax. So far the foundation has raised $7,000 through 82 donations. The Measure L parcel tax was planned to bring $4 million to the Auburn Union School District over the course of five years. The measure did not receive the two-thirds vote it needed to pass, although it did receive nearly 55 percent of the vote. Susan Fox, president of the Auburn Education Foundation, said after the measure failed, the foundation’s board met to see what it might want to do to still bring money to the Auburn Union School District. The result was the letter campaign, Fox said. “We are trying to get the word out,” Haswell said. “We are trying to publicize it as best we can. Essentially what we did originally was through our phone banking and various other campaign efforts, we identified a lot of supporters.” Newcastle resident Felice Hussa said her children attended Auburn Union schools and she and her husband donated because she wants to keep public education strong. “Our children are past the age that are in school now, but it’s so important to support children of the future, because they are our future,” Hussa said. “I feel they are entitled to a quality education. I feel I would be willing to pay more taxes if it meant giving the children of today their future. I feel it’s important that everyone supports public education.” Fox said once donations come in, the Auburn Union School District has to apply for a grant through the foundation, just like any teacher in the district would have to do when requesting money for a specific project. “What we decided to do is the Auburn Education Foundation has two regular grant cycles … so it’s a very documented and reviewed process that has been iterated since the foundation began,” Fox said. “So we are not going to stray from that process. The reason we are going to do that is we want the community to know this is not a willy nilly (decision). Douglas Crancer, who is the finance/budget person for the district, will submit a grant request. He will specify in that grant request specifically what the funds would be used for.” Crancer, assistant superintendent of business and facilities for the district, said when it comes time to apply for the grant the district would have a discussion with its board, budget advisory committee and individual schools’ staff on what specifically the money would go toward. “In order to get an idea of what to request we just have to get a better idea (of how much money is being donated) and let a few more weeks pass,” Crancer said. “(For example), if we got $200,000, we are going to have a stronger possibility of having more salaries and more services associated with salaries.” Crancer said smaller class sizes could also come as a result of the donations. Virginia “Ginna” Akers said she supported Measure L and donated for a couple of reasons. “I was really disappointed that Measure L didn’t pass, because it was so little,” Akers said. “Anyone having a meal out at a restaurant would spend that much. I used to teach in the system, and my principal was Steve Brown, who is the man who started the foundation. It was his dream … it’s very important.” David Haproff said the failure of Measure L is a “sadness” for him and his wife, so they decided to donate to the effort. “I am the product of public education from kindergarten through college,” Haproff said. “My wife and I have six children and they have been recipients of excellent public education, and we wanted to be able to help support what Auburn is trying to do.” For more information on donating contact Fox at SusieQBaby@aol.com. Reach Bridget Jones at bridgetj@goldcountrymedia.com ------------------------------------------------------ St. Patrick’s Day dinner The Auburn Education Foundation’s annual St. Patrick’s Day dinner and fundraiser is planned for 5:30 p.m.-7:30 p.m. March 17 at Skyridge Elementary School. Tickets are $11 for adults, $6 for a child and $35 for a family ticket. Tickets can be purchased at the Auburn Union School District or the individual schools. For information or to order tickets call (530) 885-7019.