With public school districts around the state facing a 0.8% decline in K-12 public school student enrollment statewide over the last four years, from 6.2 million in 2014-15 to 6.19 million in 2018-19, districts are feeling budgets tightening as those students — whose attendance make up a large part of their budget — go private, charter or out-of-state.
In order to combat this loss of revenue while maintaining services for their students, many districts have turned to creating education foundations, or nonprofits working with the school district, designed to provide services and programs that would otherwise see limited or no funding at all.
School districts within the Santa Clarita Valley have unveiled similar foundations, and now the Sulphur Springs Union School District is planning to kick off their own on Oct. 17.
Dubbed the Creative Learning for All in Sulphur Springs, or CLASS Foundation, the district has said that the nonprofit would be looking at three pillars to support financially within the district: wellness, innovation/STEM activities and then looking at creativity, which incorporates the arts.
“The foundation is working to assure access for all to participate in band and chorus,” said Joshua Randall, assistant superintendent of personnel and pupil services for the district. “We will first achieve this through scholarships, but ultimately would like to provide instrumentation lessons for students during the school day so every child who wants to can learn to play an instrument.”
CLASS, Randall said, also hopes to partner with organizations in the arts and STEM fields to provide more enriching experiences for students. Additionally, they hope the foundation can help fund teacher-designed STEM projects that can be implemented on a districtwide level.
“Our goal is to expose our students not only to the exciting challenges that STEM presents in the real world, but also allow them, at a young age, to start to meet individuals who are working in these fields,” said Randall.
The foundation would also play into student wellness by creating more interactive experiences at recess through group play, and providing counseling resources to students in need, Randall said.
“While the state provides funding for core programs, it is our belief that we can further enrich our students’ experience by providing them opportunities that go beyond the core in the areas of creativity, innovation and wellness,” said Randall. “Communities need educational foundations because they provide that avenue for involvement of the whole community and can work to consolidate support of the schools to develop and implement amazing educational opportunities for students.”
Randall encouraged those in the community wishing to get involved with the foundation to reach out to him at the district office at 661-252-5131
The kick-off for the event is scheduled to take place from 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. at Fair Oaks Ranch Elementary School on Oct. 17.