Frequently Asked Questions about the Rancho Santa Fe Education Foundation
Public school is free. Why should I contribute?
Yes, public school is paid for through federal, state and local property taxes. However, our school is not your typical
California public school. Our school has benefited from a public-private partnership between parents and the School District
over the past 15 years, whereby the parents, through the Education Foundation, contribute approximately 11% to the annual
operating budget. In 1997, a group of local residents came together and started this fund to help support our school. They
wanted their children to have an outstanding public school educational experience. Their primary objective was to reduce
class size to be similar to that found in private schools. Today, it is evident with increasing class sizes and wide-spread
program cuts in schools across the nation, that the old-fashioned state-pays-for-everything public school has disappeared.
Nearly half of the California school districts have created Education Foundations to provide additional funding for their
schools. Our Education Foundation is a well-established leader in the state and nation.
What about state and federal funds and the property taxes we pay?
The Rancho Santa Fe School District is a Basic Aid district, which means that State and Federal funds account for approximately 2% and 1% of our schoolʼs annual budget, respectively, with the district receiving approximately 82% of funding from local property taxes. In 1978, Proposition 13 was introduced and capped property taxes for all pre-1978 homeowners in
California. This limited tax revenue to the school while education costs have continued to rise. It is no surprise that
California ranks 27th in the nation for per-student spending which is below the national average. The current budget system
is just not adequate to support the type of education that we all want for our children. More recently with the economic
crisis, homeowners have reassessed their properties at lower levels, reducing tax payments and many local homes have
gone into foreclosure eliminating tax payments altogether. This has reduced tax income to the school over the past couple
of years and for the foreseeable future.
How does the District use the Education Foundation money?
Fortunately, we are a single school district, which means that every dollar contributed to the Education Foundation is directly
applied to only one school, our school. This is an advantage that many other school districts do not have, and it should
make you feel even more comfortable about your contributions as 100% of them directly affect your children. 96% percent
of Education Foundation funds provide for teacher salaries and 4% is for enrichment activities such as Red Ribbon Week,
Science Discovery Day, Ocean Weeks and Field Day. Additional teachers allow for class sizes that are 44% smaller than
the average public school at an average of 18 students versus 32 students. Our overall teacher to student ratio is 66%
lower than other California schools at 1:11 versus 1:32. At our school teachers with advanced and specialized degrees
teach subjects like Science, Spanish, Art, Athletics, Music, Math, Drama and Technology, while at other schools these
programs are often taught by unspecialized general classroom teachers or parent volunteers. Teachers with specialized
degrees impart their passion for their subject field, employ dynamic approaches and leading-edge technology to their
teaching methodology. The remainder of the funds help support the other aspects of the Five-Star Education program outside of teachers, such as ongoing teacher training for Literacy Excellence, Science programs such as the Ocean Weeks, Science Discovery Day, the Tech 21 Lab and new Robotics program, materials and equipment for Art, Music, Technology, Drama and Athletics.
How does the cost compare to Private School tuition?
While class sizes are similar to those found at area private schools, the $1,609 Fair Share cost per child is a small fraction
of private school tuition, which is approximately $26,000 at Bishopʼs and Pacific Ridge, between $19,000 and $23,000 at
Francis Parker, $17,000 at Diegueno and $23,000 at La Jolla Country Day. Please note that contributions to the Education
Foundation are fully tax-deductible whereas private school tuition is not tax-deductible.
How do I know that this money is making a difference?
Test scores are one quantitative means of determining our schoolʼs achievement, and clearly they demonstrate our rigorous and effective curriculum. Our School Districtʼs students have achieved API scores in the Top 1% of the Stateʼs schools since 2003 when they first began testing. The overall school ranking for 2011 is 951 (out of 1000), with the Elementary School and Middle School ranking 950 and 951, respectively. When ranked against all schools in California, both the Middle and Elementary Schools have consistently performed at a high level and work hard to maintain that level of competence and strength. While strong test scores are important, we believe test scores tell only part of the story for providing an excellent education. It is important also to appreciate other factors that benefit our childrenʼs education and lives. First and foremost are our small class sizes, which allow teachers the luxury of time -- time to better understand each of our children and to be able to teach accordingly. Then there are many areas that are not measured using standardized tests but that we all appreciate and provide a grounded and well rounded understanding of the world for our children such as Science, Music, Art, Athletics, Drama and Technology, to name a few. It is critical to continue to provide a strong balance between preparing our children for academic success and exposing them to different enrichment activities that are essential to their creative development and growth.
How much should we give?
This yearʼs grant to the District is $1,000,000 plus $30,000 in operating expenses, which divided by 640 students equals $1,609 – the 'Fair Share' cost of the program for each child. Operating expenses are as follows: 33% credit card fees, 27% Audit/CPA Services, 11% Donor Management Software License, 15% Office Supplies and Meeting Expenses, 6% Misc. (spirit wear, student activities, taxes), 5% Marketing, 3% Insurance. Every child at the school benefits from the Five-Star Education program but it takes the support of all parents to maintain this effort. Please join the dedicated families of our community in support of the Education Foundation and consider contributing at least your Fair Share because if youʼre not paying your Fair Share, your neighbor has to help cover the educational cost of your child(ren). We cannot leave this obligation to be fulfilled by families perceived to be more affluent. All children who attend the school get the same education. A list recognizing and thanking all contributors by family or business name is mailed to school families three times a year, and a full-page ad is
published in The RSF Review at the end of the school year. At the time of your contribution you will be able to specify how you would like your name to appear or if you would prefer to remain anonymous.
Who contributes to the Education Foundation?
The primary contributors to the Education Foundation are school parents. Last year, 85% of all parents participated in the program but the expectation is that this number should be 100%. It has become critical that all of us plan our family budgets each year to include a contribution to the Education Foundation that reflects the Fair Share costs per child or as close to that figure as possible. Moreover, 85% of teachers and staff contributed in an effort to show their support last year. Last but not least, local community businesses, referred to as Community Partners have supported the Education Foundation. Some of them, such as The Inn at Rancho Santa Fe, Wells Fargo – The Private Bank, Merrill Lynch, Stumps Village Market and Caffe Positano & Rancho Sandwich have contributed for many years.
How do I pay and is my contribution tax deductible?
All donations are 100% tax deductible, IRS #33-0787566. We accept personal and foundation checks, credit cards and stock transfers. More information about stock transfers can be found online at rsfef.org, where you can also print the contribution form and review the list of Matching Companies. You can also pay online at rsfef.org. Please make checks payable to RSF Education Foundation. Mail to P.O. Box 809, Rancho Santa Fe, CA 92067, or deliver them to the school front office or fax your pledge form and credit card information to (858) 756-6602 or call (858) 756-1141 x208. If you would like to set up payments in installments please call the office at this number to make arrangements.