Hope School District Makes Dent in Major Debt

As a Result, 27 Employees Will Keep Their Jobs

<b>BIG BUCKS:</b> Children of Hope School District Educational Foundation board members present a quarter-million-dollar donation to restore 27 jobs eliminated during the district's ongoing budget crisis.

The Hope School District Educational Foundation has committed $255,000 to save the jobs of 27 employees who received pink slips in October as the district copes with an $800,000 budgetary shortfall. Three intervention teachers, 19 instructional aides, three librarians, and two health clerks will keep their jobs through the end of the school year. “Our community really came together in a big way,” said foundation president Holly Leck, who, along with foundation members and their children, presented an oversized check during Monday night’s board meeting. “We’ve never raised this much this quickly.”

In September, district administrators announced they had discovered a shortfall of nearly $400,000, which roughly doubled as they factored in the district’s state-mandated reserve fund. At a town hall meeting at the time, parents and teachers were informed that the district had been caught off guard by spiking costs in special-education services and also accounting errors made by its former business manager. Shortly thereafter, the district’s educational foundation, which had been inactive for some time, scrambled to reconvene its board and launch fundraising efforts “to raise money for positions that most impact the kids,” Leck said. According to current business manager Sandra Knight, five positions ​— ​including two special-education aides and a night custodian ​— ​have not yet been restored and others have been reduced. A recent $20,000 allocation will help pay for one special-education aide from January to July, she added.

The foundation pulled together funding through the traditional spectrum, from lemonade stands and bake sales to family donations and corporate philanthropy. Operating on a $10 million budget, nearly 90 percent of which is funded through property taxes, the district serves 1,000 kids at three elementary schools — Hope Elementary, Monte Vista, and Vieja Valley.

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