A Message from Our President, Erin Bilvado

See below a message that our President sent out yesterday in regards to SMSF’s commitment to save our teachers!

I share this call to action with you as a fellow parent, concerned community member, and as president of the San Marino Schools Foundation. By now, you have heard or read about our school board’s recent announcement to reduce teaching positions in our schools due to an ongoing structural budget deficit resulting from increased expenses, such as pension cost, and reduced enrollment. Like you, I’m concerned about how this will impact my children’s education and the quality of our programs and instruction in San Marino. 

I thank the many of you who have already reached out to me directly to ask, “How can I help?” This reaction reflects our community’s unified, decades-long commitment to educational excellence and truly great schools. The school board’s announcement more than doubles our Foundation’s fundraising challenge if we are to avoid a substantial reduction in teachers. I assure you that the Foundation takes this financial crisis very seriously. Over these crucial next 60 days, the Foundation will be engaging and rallying the community to participate in a campaign to save teaching positions. We are dedicated to clearly communicating the dependency our children have on our school community to remain relevant.

The common purpose of our Foundation is to raise the critical funds needed to pay for full time certificated teaching positions, including payroll, benefits, and pension costs. These teaching positions are central to class size and instructional programs in our schools. Transparency and trust are essential, as we all take steps to understand the deficit – its components, its causes – and to find both short-term interventions to deal with the immediate crisis and sustainable long-term solutions for our schools’ success. We have heard from many of you who want to understand the broader plan, including the critical role of parcel taxes, the Foundation, and the PTAs.

The Foundation is already taking the following immediate steps:

1. Proactively engage the school district to understand what funding will be required to prevent reductions among our teachers.
2. Clearly communicate the dependency our children have on our school community to remain relevant. Every community member and school family needs to understand that local funding sources will be required for 56% of all teaching positions in our schools in this era.

  • Foundation – 21 teachers and this new challenge of 31 additional positions
  • Parcel taxes (Measure E & R) – over 37 full-time teachers
  • PTAs – Campus based needs such as art, STEM labs, and library

3. Convene our Foundation trustees in an off-cycle Board of Trustees meeting early this week to develop our response and activate our school community.
4. Conduct an assessment of various giving options that would allow donors additional control over the allocation of funds, while simultaneously aligning with district funding priorities and policies. 
5. Engage the leaders of the community’s 2010 “Refuse to Lose” campaign, when the district and the community faced a similar challenge of saving teaching positions.
6. Engage our PTAs and other community organizations for a coordinated, multi-functional approach to address this issue as a team.
7. Facilitate a listening tour in partnership with Dr. Jeff Wilson to hear from parents and community members directly. We need unity and listening as a concerned community.

Over the next several weeks, we will be reaching out to all of you for help. There are three things you can do in the meantime: (1) consider what you can contribute financially; (2) get the word out to your circles of influence, both in person and on social media, that every single school family and community member is important and must play a role; and (3) think about becoming involved with the Foundation as we will need your help. This effort will need to be a team sport, and a diversity of opinions deliver better solutions.

This is a call to action to go above and beyond our current participation as a community and to engage in our children’s educational journey and future like never before. The situation is dire if we do not come together. You are a critical link!

With Gratitude,
Erin Bilvado
2019-2020 SMSF President

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