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Foundation submits letter underlining school budget cuts

CARLSBAD — Recently, the Carlsbad Educational Foundation, or CEF, submitted a letter to the community to convey some important information.

It underlined the upcoming budget cuts the Carlsbad Unified School District, or CUSD, is facing and how CEF is forecasting innovative ways to help ensure that students still have program access for excellent education.
The estimated deficit for the 2012-2013 CUSD school year is teetering at $7.8 million.

“I think it’s safe to say that this is probably the biggest challenge the school district has ever faced in terms of the size and magnitude of cuts necessary to bring the budget back in line,” said Valin Brown, chief executive officer at CEF.  “I think we have weathered several significant challenges at Carlsbad Ed Foundation and certainly this would be one of the top ones.”

While the school district is doing its own work of filtering information to the public, Brown said, CEF works so closely with the school district that they needed to share how this negative fiscal impact will affect their organization.

“It really is an important question and one that we wanted to start to articulate publically so people understand what our goal is,” he said. With so many potential shifts in education, its mission is to balance the needs for kids.
Since its 1983 inception, CEF has reinvested nearly $5 million back to students.

Brown said CEF has offered the community an opportunity to make an additional investment that augments and helps raise the quality of education for children. For example, one of its most popular programs is the kindergarten to fifth-grade weekly music series.

But with the financial shortfall CUSD is experiencing, CEF is stepping forward to help in any way that it can. Brown pointed out that a deficit this large cannot be solved by private donations alone.

“So we temper our optimism with a bit of realism,” he said, adding that they will concentrate on modest goals.

Brown said the budget cuts might affect teachers, staff and adjustments to the school year.  If these types of transformations happen, CEF will increase its programs such as its Kids’ Care childcare program for kindergarten through fifth-grade students and kindergarten through eighth grade Summer Enrichment Program.

“Those are the most logical and hopefully the most helpful programs that we can actually run and administer,” he said. If class time days were reduced, CEF could put programs in place to give kids good, viable educational opportunities during those periods.

“And that’s a good thing for everybody,” he said.

Conversely, a grass roots organization named the CUSD Parent & Community Budget Task Force has partnered with CEF. They emerged this past fall after learning of the extreme budget cuts. Their mission is to provide different ideas and solutions.

On the revenue side, Brown said, the group just got started with some adept leadership and has members with corporate backgrounds. The task force meets monthly. Brown describes the group as impassioned, articulate and strategic.

“Their desire to make a difference is perfectly aligned with what we exist to do,” Brown said. “We can provide some of the infrastructure, support and guidance and they have the great ideas, will and desire to make a difference. Together, we hope we can achieve some really good things that can help make a positive impact.”

Also on the horizon sometime in February is a CEF blog. It will keep parents abreast on what’s happening with news, developments and updates.

“Our hope is to educate the public better and find creative ways to help reduce the negative impact on kids when all is said and done,” he said.