Editorial: Retaining Extended Studies speaks volumes

Parents, teachers, students and staff accomplished an incredible feat in less than two months.

With little notice, they raised enough money to all-but retain the Extended Studies Curriculum in the Del Mar Union School District, making their students’ access to art, science, technology, physical education and music almost certain.

At a Feb. 25 Board of Trustees meeting, the community learned that they had less than two months to raise the money necessary to keep the ESC program into next year at most of the school sites.

On March 15, as has become customary, the district sent out a slew of pink slips. Fifty-two teachers faced uncertainty; and 4,243 students faced the possibility of less access to a quality program that many call a safe haven.

After 2010, the Del Mar Education Foundation will be the funding vehicle for ESC. But for the upcoming school year, it was every school for itself.

Faced with the upsetting prospect, the community sprang into action, showing the ESC teachers just how needed they are and showing the students how dearly their education is valued.

They flexed their creative might, organizing bake sales, rummage sales and pancake breakfasts.

They threw a party to auction student-made artwork, donated goods and services and teacher volunteer hours.

Students hit the ground running. They worked hard raising money only to sweat through jog-a-thons.

All this came in the name of retaining a superior curriculum that is not available in many public school systems.

With the announcement at an April 15 DMUSD special meeting, a collective sigh of relief was audible. The schools raised more than $1.6 million collectively and it looks like 30 of those pink slips will be rescinded.

What a fine example of self-sufficiency. A community that fosters a public education system, such as DMUSD’s, nurtures creativity and talent.

When students are raised with the understanding that education is the best investment around, they grow into the kind of leaders who won’t sit by to watch the budget ax drop and suffer the consequences.

Involving the students in the fundraising efforts taught a valuable lesson: All the pencils and the books and the teachers’ dirty looks must really amount to something.