When teachers' jobs and extended studies programs were put on the chopping block at the Del Mar Union School District, a battle cry echoed throughout the school community - our children's education is not going to suffer if we have anything to do about it.
In the first three weeks after the board of trustees voted to restructure the extended studies program and issue 19 preliminary layoff notices due to budget restraints, the Del Mar Education Foundation raised more than $260,000.
"The community responded with extraordinary generosity," said Matt Zevin, the foundation's president. "Every day, checks are piling in."
That brings the total the foundation has saved for science, technology, physical education, art and music to $980,000.
But the fundraising is far from over.
The eight elementary schools have until April 15, the deadline to issue final layoff notices, to raise the $1.6 million needed to save specialized teaching positions for many of these subjects.
While the foundation, combined with money raised by Parent Teacher Associations, is getting closer to that number, each school is responsible for raising its own required funds. Some schools are doing better than others reaching their individual goals, Zevin said.
"I am extremely confident some schools will reach their goal," Zevin said. "I am a little more concerned about a couple schools."
Parents, teachers and staff have been working extremely hard to come up with creative ways to elicit donations in short order. Schools mobilized jog-a-thons, grade-level parties and after-school activities to raise money for these programs.
For example, Del Mar Heights hosted "Magical Moments with Your Teachers" on March 25. For a donation of $100, students participated in a variety of fun, small-group activities led by teachers, from science labs to soirees. The school raised more than $16,000 in those two hours.
Del Mar Heights PTA President Debbie Negulescu said she shared this success at the board of trustee's March 25 meeting to "give hope to every school."
She encouraged everyone to give what they can, having received donations ranging from $10 to $1,500.
Superintendent Sharon McClain said she will review the fundraising tallies with staff on April 15, which will directly determine how many teachers the district can keep for next year.
Fundraising will continue after that date, but will no longer be site specific. Donations will be distributed throughout the district to help bring the programs at every school on par with one another.
For more information, go to