CLICK HERE TO SEE 3/27/18 FUNDRAISER UPDATE!
Dear Mountain View Community:
As many of you have learned recently, either at Dr. Garriss’ Coffee Chat on February 5, 2018 or in subsequent discussions, the Foundation is no longer able to fund salaries for our computer lab and science teachers going forward. In light of the questions that arose at that meeting and afterward, I wanted to provide the following information in the hope that it will help everyone understand the situation facing the current Foundation board, what has been done so far, and begin a productive dialog toward a positive path forward. Some of this information is a recap from that meeting, and some is a more detailed look at the current situation and issues.
As some of you may be aware, about five years ago the Foundation’s then-Board decided to undertake to pay for salary and lab supplies for a second teacher. At that time (and in fact at all times until about two weeks ago), schools in Cobb were free to fund salaries for teachers or paraprofessionals through foundations in any amount deemed suitable by the local school’s Foundation. Some area schools, like Mountain View, hired certified teachers, others hired non-certified staff at lower rates. Nothing was standardized. These additional personnel are employees of Cobb County Schools, and the individual foundations are billed monthly for their salaries. Up until this point, the County has borne the cost of benefits for these employees.
Taking on a second certified salary was ambitious, and it was clear almost immediately that the Foundation would not be able to cover the salaries from fundraising. In order to pay the invoices sent by the County, the Foundation had to dip into reserves. Those of you who were members of the community in 2014-15 may recall that the then-Board launched a “Save the Teachers” campaign that was successful in meeting the immediate need, but did nothing to stop the bleeding from the Foundation reserves, and which many children found very upsetting (and which the teachers found embarrassing in the extreme). Despite the fact that our number one cost and top priority is paying the invoices for these two teachers, losses mounted annually, and the Foundation continued dipping into reserves.
About six months ago, the current Board of seven members inherited a budget with insufficient reserves to support the salaries beyond this school year. Accordingly, we spent the summer attempting to research and problem solve how to address this short fall. We undertook significant research into the other area foundations and how they funded support staff/teachers, and discovered that many funded only at a para-pro level, while others are able to fund salaries through significantly higher levels of participation than our Mountain View community has been able to reach.
Nevertheless, increased participation seemed like the best way forward. We spent much of the summer revamping the Foundation by implementing tiers for families and, for the first time, we added corporate memberships. We offered membership incentives and changed our logo to highlight the purpose of the Foundation. We updated marketing materials and communicated through all the means we had available to us what the purpose of the Foundation is and why it was vitally important for the community to support its work. Despite our efforts, we did not see any uptick in membership funds from prior years.
We also spent the summer and fall knocking on company doors trying to get corporate memberships. We received many generous donations, but they came in the form of products from the company (food, gift cards, food coupons, etc.). We were very grateful for these donations and used them at Fall Festival and Foundation Night—however, at the end of the day, they do not help with the salary invoice we receive monthly.
We continued our efforts in the school year as well. We have been respectful of the teachers’ request that we not make every plea to join a direct referendum on their jobs, but every communication from the Foundation has openly and clearly stated that all funds support the technology and science teachers’ salaries. At STEM night in August, for example, the Foundation presented information and a slide showing our projected expenses, our YTD income and projected income for this school year, which highlighted the approximately $30,000 gap for this year alone, even including anticipated revenue from fundraising activities. These slides were publicly available after the event. Both at the event and subsequently, we have actively solicited help from the community. Unfortunately, our community continues to participate at about a 10% level. This is simply not enough to sustain two salaries.
The final straw is a very recent mandate from the County that has standardized salaries for staff funded by extracurricular means and also makes the Foundation responsible for benefits to these employees as well as salary itself. Accordingly, to continue to support these two salaries, the Foundation would need roughly $66,000 per teacher, or about $132,000.
This mandate of salaries is a huge impact for Foundations throughout Cobb County, just not here at Mountain View. And it is critical to note that simply solving the short fall for this year, or even raising enough money for next year, does not solve the ongoing problem. For perspective, with a current enrollment of about 735 students, the Foundation would need to raise about $180 per student (not per household) to reach this target. And this figure is somewhat misleading, because with approximately 18% of our student body eligible for free and reduced lunch programs, this is not a cost that can really be borne on a per student basis. If only the other 80% of students were to contribute, the amount rises to approximately $225.00 per student.
Presently, the Foundation can expect an annual income of roughly $10,000 from clubs and after school activities. A review of the breakfast fundraiser showed that the Foundation was not making any revenue due to the mark up on Chic-fil-A biscuits, and so other breakfast partners were sought. Based on this change, we have added another $2,000 from breakfast sales to the budget. As was shared back in August, this and the Mad Dash revenue will still leave us roughly $30,000 short for the 2017-18 school year, and without sufficient reserves to guarantee salaries for the 2018-19 school year.
At this point, what we need is your patience, your ideas, and your energy. We are encouraged at the outpouring of interest in the wake of the Coffee Chat, and would love to have more volunteers working with the Foundation. We welcome suggestions for increasing participation at all levels. If you would like to be part of this effort, please do not hesitate to reach out to me via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you for your interest and commitment to the learning of students at Mountain View.
President, Mountain View Foundation