RANCHO SANTA FE — The Azalea Room at the Inn at Rancho Santa Fe hosted Toast of the Town, a special event for those who have supported the Rancho Santa Fe Education Foundation during the past school year.
“It is the end of the year thank you for all our donors of the foundation. Anyone who donated throughout the year, it does not matter on what level, anyone who gave us support is invited to the event,” said Marianne Witmeyer, secretary of the Foundation and one of the organizers.
The student art auction has been a part of the longtime “toast” event for only the past two years and has become quite popular. Each grade does a project for the auction. They ranged from sea creature clocks to metallic, magnetic boards.
“We raised over $10,000,” Witmeyer said.
“Once again, there were some spectacular and creative items,” she said. “Lori Vitale and Linda Dado did a superb job organizing the art auction.”
The more than 200 attendees broke an attendance record which thrilled foundation officials.
“This year we definitely had a better turnout because of the kids art work. I think the parents were looking forward to seeing it and looking forward to a night out,” she said.
Kelli Graham and Teryl Macia were the co-chairs of the event. The Inn was also host to the May 12 event.
The Toast of the Town is just one of the get-togethers put on by the Rancho Santa Fe Education Foundation that supports the R. Roger Rowe School.
It grants the school $1 million a year, but does not hold fundraisers. It divides the money between the students and asks the parents to give their “fair share,” per child.
If a family is unable to pay their “fair share,” other people pay more than required.
“We have some incredibly generous people who donate a lot higher,” she said.
“We found over the years there are a ton of charities out there doing fundraisers. The same people do the organizing and get the auction items. Some people don’t want another party to get dressed up for. Ours is a more clear message,” she said.
“We pay for small class sizes. We pay for math and science specialists. We pay for literacy specialists and electives which are a lot of the arts and computers and the Oceans program, a partnership with Scripps,” she said. “They call it a ‘Five Star Education.’ Each star is for a different thing we pay for.”
Most parents think the donation is well worth it, she said.
“Our average class size is 17. It makes a huge difference,” she said. “I would say a good percentage of people bought their house in Rancho Santa Fe especially for the school.”
She said the foundation pays for about 10 percent of the school’s budget.
There are 20 board members and about 30 others who work diligently to get the word out about the foundation.
“There is a lot that goes into raising awareness of it. In the summer we start with pool parties for all the new families whether it is kindergarten or fifth or sixth grade. They are hosted in people’s homes. It is a way to come in a meet other kids in your grade and other families. We hand them information about the foundation.”
She said they also hold back-to-school coffees and Kerman Beriker, general manager for the Inn at Rancho Santa Fe, and also a board member, hosts cocktail parties at the Inn.
With the current budget cuts coming this year, she said the foundation needs to “step up its game,” she said.
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