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Failed measure spurs donated funds

Financial burden may not be filled, district supporter says
By: Bridget Jones, Journal Staff Writer
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After the failure of a local measure set to bring money into Auburn schools, some community members are ready to offer donations. Measure L was a proposed annual $59 parcel tax for those who live in the Auburn Union School District. The district was hoping to raise $4 million over five years. The money was scheduled to go toward reading, math and science instruction in the classrooms. The measure needed a two-thirds vote to pass, but on election day only received 54.19 percent approval. In a letter published Nov. 9 in the Journal, Auburn residents George and Joyce Beland encouraged community members who voted to approve the measure to donate $59 directly to the district. George Beland said Wednesday the couple has already mailed the district a check for that amount, and he thinks most people can spare $59. “It got me thinking, if (people) just gave up one hamburger per month, it’s such a trivial amount really, maybe the people in the district could go over the top with the money they needed,” George Beland said. “I just think having enough money to have a good education system is very important for the people of our country and our area.” District staff was scheduled to speak to the board of trustees Wednesday evening about how to go forward with accepting donations. “We just want to share with them that we have gotten some comments from people in the community,” said Michele Schuetz, superintendent of the Auburn Union School District. “What we want is any contributions coming in to be spent the way they would have been spent in the measure.” Schuetz said staff is looking for ideas from the board on how to specifically handle the donations with any necessary oversights. Schuetz said the district has already received two donations and a number of calls from other residents interested in donating, and the gifted money is being kept in a separate fund. “I’ve been very impressed with the community and how they realize a strong school system means a strong community,” Schuetz said. Schuetz said she plans to write her own donation check to the district. Auburn resident Patrick Hutton said he wants to donate about $100 to the district. Hutton said he wants to donate because he supported Measure L. “I thought it was a great measure, and I thought the measure was really well put together … and it had so many safeguards,” Hutton said. Rob Haswell, who was the chairman for Citizens for a Stronger Auburn Yes on L, said he plans to donate, and looks forward to a specific plan about the donations from the district. “I’m going to be writing my property tax check … and what I intend to do is to write a separate $59 check to the district,” Haswell said. “The issue right now is what is the appropriate place and way to deal with those contributions.” Haswell said a lot of outreach by the district would be needed, and he isn’t sure if community donations can come close to the $4 million the district was hoping for. “I think it’s great people want to help,” he said. “I just believe that grassroots fundraising like this is something we need to do … but I’m not sure this is a long-term solution. The prospects of not having a local sustainable revenue stream – that’s concerning. A lot of people are excited and they want to give, and they will, but will it really address the financial hole in the long-term?” Auburn resident Rick Worrell said he already donated $59 to the district and is prepared to do so for the next five years. “I worked for the district for about 26 years,” Worrell said. “I’m retired from there, and I support the schools. My granddaughter goes to Skyridge School. If everybody who voted for it would send (donations), that would help. I would like my granddaughter to get the best education she can.” Auburn resident Joanne Neft said she is willing to write a check for $300 to the district to donate what her share would have been over the five years had the measure passed. Neft said she supported Measure L because she received an excellent education and she wants local children to have that as well. “I feel it’s time for me to give back,” Neft said. “We have to honor educating our children. That’s our best resource for the future.” Reach Bridget Jones at bridgetj@goldcountrymedia.com