In the wake of increasing state budget cuts in California, the Peninsula Education Foundation raised its annual fundraising goal for the 2012-2013 school year to $3 million.
The new goal, approved during the education foundation's annual meeting in June, represents an almost 10 percent increase over last year's goal and is double the foundation's goal of $1.5 million set back in 2008, according to PEF executive director Andrea Sala.
"The state keeps cutting back money and so we don't want to lose teachers," said Sala. "The money just isn't coming from the state."
Sala said that in the past four years, the Palos Verdes Peninsula Unified School District has lost 77 teachers due to budget cuts, including 16 in the past year alone. While around half of the PEF's fundraising revenues help fund teaching positions, Sala said it is still not enough to offset cuts.
The PEF said that this year's fundraising efforts will help maintain manageable class sizes by providing district-wide teaching positions, including two "21st Century Technology and Teaching Specialists." These specially-trained teachers will focus on reaching district goals related to the Common Core State Standards, 21st Century proficiencies and the district's technology plan.
Past contributions have helped fund librarians, counselors, music programs and even engineering labs.
"Our schools only stay as good as the programs they have," Sala said, adding that many states provide higher funding for specialized programs. "In order to remain competitive, you have to keep programs like that."
According to PVPUSD superintendent Walker Williams, the education foundation's fundraising efforts are critical to the district's annual budget.
"PEF's fundraising has become increasingly critical for our school district and we rely on their support each year in our district's budget," said Williams in a release. "Many of the programs and positions they fund would be cut if not for PEF's support."
Fortunately for the PEF and PVPUSD, Sala said fundraising goals have been met for the past 15 years thanks to donations from both parents with children in school and even those without any children enrolled in the district.
"The (community) has been very responsive," said Sala. "The good news is that donations are coming in, but $3 million is a lot of money so it will probably take the entire school year to raise it."
Sala said that this year, in addition to the annual Skechers Pier to Pier Friendship Walk and the PEF's Main Event, the education foundation will hold a monthly food truck event at the Promenade on the Peninsula to help raise funds.
In addition, Sala encouraged those in Palos Verdes to make a donation.
"Everyone please make a donation, especially if they have kids in school, because it really does matter and it really does help the schools," said Sala.