It's that time again - the McDonald PTA is reaching out to the entire McDonald Int'l community to raise the money to fund, for the 2017-18 academic year, the language immersion education program that we all so value for our kids.
In this first article we'll try to answer the sort of questions that might reasonably be asked of someone trying to squeeze a crowd for $400,000.
Q: Why $400,000? That's a lot of money.
A: That's how much it'll cost to pay for all of the Instructional Assistants (IAs) half time certificated English language (ELA) teachers, and immersion Interns that are needed for the upcoming academic year - that's 3 IAs, 1 ELA teacher, and 7 Interns in total to support our instructional program next year. This also creates a reserve for additional instructional support including, but not limited to: MTSS support, Librarian Time, Literacy Support, Counselor Time, Psychologist Time, Instrumental Music, and more.
Q: Why are you even asking for money? I thought my taxes paid for all this.
A: Unfortunately that's not so, especially in the state of Washington. In January of 2012, in McCleary v. Washington, the Washington Supreme Court, citing Section 1, Article IX of the Washington State Constitution (page 37—be warned: it's a snoozer), ruled that the state wasn't sufficiently fulfilling its basic constitutional duty to "amply" fund public education and ordered the state legislature to fix the problem by 2018 by providing adequate sources of future revenue. Since the Court's January 2012 ruling the legislature has shifted around some funds, but whatever they've done hasn't satisfied the Court, which prodded the legislature to get going. In response to the Court's push, the state senator who chairs the Education Committee, Steve Litzow, pushed back by saying that he doesn't intend to bring up either public education or its funding woes at all during the legislature's entire next session.
The point of all the back-story isn't to make you a full-throated advocate for anything in particular; rather, it's to point out that a) not only is state government not currently doing its Court-ordered duty to adequately fund public education but b) as parents of kids who are currently in the public schools we don't have time to wait for state government to get its act together. As long as our elected and/or appointed "Olympians" dicker and dither, public schools—including McDonald—won't get more money from the state. If we want our children to get the education they deserve right now, we have to pay for it ourselves right now—or rather, commit by no later than February 28th to paying for 2017-18.
Q: What's so special about the end of February?
A: Seattle Public Schools has given us a deadline of March 1st to tell them how much funding we have in place for the upcoming academic year (that is, 2017-18). They need a $ figure by March 1st so we can hire for the coming year.
Q: How much money is needed from each family?
A: All students are welcome at McDonald regardless financial contribution. Our goal is 100% participation. Our program requires an average of $850 per student (that's $1,700 for Kindergarteners who haven't yet contributed since that covers this current school year as well as 2017-18). We realize that's a lot to ask for, so we're asking families to give what they can - $50, $100, $1,000! - and we're hoping for 100% participation.
Q: How do I donate?
A: In February, an Authorization Agreement for Direct Donation form (aka "ACH form," after the company we use to withdraw your payment from your account) will be sent home via "kid-mail" (your child's back-pack); you can also print it out yourself. By filling it out and sending it in, you're committing to pay a fixed amount each month for the next eight months (through next mid-September, which is when we need to have banked all the IS Fund money that'll be spent in 2016-17). Fill it out and get it back to the school as soon as you can; if you get the form in by Friday, Feb 24th, the first withdrawal from your account would occur on Friday, March 3. $850 spread over seven months would equal monthly payments of $121.42.
Q: Next year I'll have more than one child in the immersion program. Should I fill out multiple forms?
A: No, only one form per household is necessary. However, if your donations include contributions for incoming Kindergarteners, please note that on the form.
Immersion support needs: 3 Instructional Assistants, 1 half time certificated English Language teacher & 7 Interns
Amount we need to raise: $400,000
Amount we've raised as of January 24: $251,000
Deadline to raise the $: Feb 28, 2017
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