Saugus begins to lay the groundwork for district foundation

Looking to address a $1 million drop in revenue forecast for 2019-20, Saugus Union School District leaders are joining other local educational entities that have created fundraising foundations to help keep the cuts from the classroom.

SUSD Superintendent Colleen Hawkins shared the outlines for a plan for such an organization with board members Tuesday night, including how the district could build a new foundation that would, in theory, support arts and science programs.

Although the foundation is currently unnamed, it would act similarly in nature to the WiSH Foundation, a nonprofit created by the William S. Hart Union High School District, with a committee made up of members of the public overseeing a fund that has received donations from private companies and the public, for the expressed purpose of fulfilling the district’s needs.

“The arts, which should really be a core program in our day and age — we don’t have the funds to support it,” said Hawkins. “Foundations allow people to not only raise funds for specific purposes, but bring like-minded folks together who want to support something like that.”

Hawkins said that the arts programs are a large part of what SUSD wants to bring to students, and while the board continues to look at what the focus of the foundation would be, they’re looking at a variety of uses for the foundation funds.

“It’s really important for us to be aware of and pursue all available sources of resources to provide enriching learning opportunities for all students in the district, and this is one of the ways we can ensure that that happens,” said board President Julie Olsen, who added that her personal priority would be to see the students of the district have access to instrumental music during the day.

“I think the arts would be a natural piece, but I could also see us looking at the work we’re doing around science, looking at STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering), coding, robotics and those sorts of things,” said Hawkins. “I could see it going a variety of ways.”

During the meeting, Hawkins gave a presentation that said the purpose of the foundation would be to supplement and complement district resources, provide equity between the donations given at individual schools, compete with other foundations for resources and leadership in Santa Clarita and would not replace existing district allocations or Parent Teacher Association efforts.

Hawkins said that by September, they would like to see the name, vision, mission, logo, social media and web, board of directors seating and incorporation done. Later in the fall, they’ll have launched a publicity awareness campaign. And by the beginning of next year, they’ll be planning a signature event.

Although they are not currently selecting board members, Hawkins said that those interested in donating or participating can reach out to her or the board members to find out about upcoming informational meetings and development meetings.

“We’ve been committed to it for quite a long time, we’ve just had some stops and restarts along the way,” said Olsen. “And now I feel that we’re really ready to go. It’s exciting.”

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