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San Juan's Save Our Schools within $93,000 of reaching goal

The Save Our Schools (SOS) Campaign has raised $206,538 toward a matching gift goal of $300,000.

Superintendent Michael Soltman reported that the combined “challenge” and “matching” gifts have reached $413,076 toward addressing the $600,000 budget shortfall for 2008-09. These funds have restored all teaching positions and have sustained class sizes and instructional programs.

Funds have also restored the athletic program, PIP program, special education assessment services, and some secretarial, custodial and paraprofessional services.

“The remaining $93,462 must still be raised to obtain the matching funds to fully restore essential services such as playground supervision, paraprofessional support for struggling learners, secretarial services, custodial services, and food service for students,” he said in a press release.

Paul LeBaron, president of the San Juan Public Schools Foundation, expressed confidence that the remaining funds will be raised this month to fully restore all programs and services.

“The Schools Foundation board will be on site at the County Fair to continue to raise funds for these essential services. We appreciate the generosity our community has shown and we invite everyone to be a part of closing this remaining funding gap.”

Islanders wishing to make a contribution may call the Community Foundation at 378-1001, or the Schools Foundation “SOS Hotline” at 370-7925, or use the “donate now” secure link on the foundation Web site, www.sjpsf.org.

The school district blames the shortfall on enrollment declines and on the state Legislature not fully funding state voter-mandated cost-of-living raises for teachers, putting the burden on districts.

In May, Charlie Anderson, president of the San Juan Community Foundation, announced that local donors had coordinated to award a $300,000 “Challenge Gift” to the school district The donors included an anonymous donor through the Fairway Fund, and gifts from David McCauley and Cloud Oakes, Scott Boden, Charlie and Pamela Anderson, and Roger Salquist.

A Save Our Schools Campaign involving more than 465 individual donors, and generous donations from Valmark Inc., Carolyn Haugen, Rich and Joan Komen, Purple and Gold Booster Club, and Roche Harbor Resort generated a total of $206,538 in matching gifts.

Soltman reported that the long-range financial planning task force will be under way in August with information to the community by mid-October. Residents will be invited to assess priorities and share ideas for long-term planning and funding of our public schools.

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