Troubled schools ask for help


Park School Elementary in Mill Valley is the envy of many schools in California. The art, drama and music programs have been well funded by parents.

Still, the Mill Valley School District has come up short $600,000.

They are one of just a few basic aid districts that are getting their money from property taxes. Taxes in Mill Valley have increased, but at a smaller rate. The district has seen an increase in student enrollment.

"A lot of programs that support teachers and kids will have to be either reduced or eliminated. A lot of our professional development programs will have to go away until we see better days in the budget," said Superintendent Ken Benny.

But the arts programs in this district will be spared. Every year, parents donate to Kiddo, the local community foundation, which last year raised $1.6 million to supplement programs.

But this year parents are being asked for more money, $750 per family.

"When we heard that classroom aids and library aids were on the table for the budget cuts due to the state deficit, we felt it was imperative that we step up," said Kiddo Executive Director Trisha Garlock.

They'll need an additional $300,000 dollars to save these part-time jobs. Parents are responding to this call of help, because most can.

"We've got to have rounded children right? Rounded and grounded," said Mill Valley parent Bob Kittredge.

But it's a different story at the nearby Sausalito-Marin City School District, which faces $100,000 in budget cuts, and no real financial help from parents.

According to the 2000 U.S. Census Report, the median income per family in Mill Valley is $119,000. There are no number for Marin City because it is unincorporated, but it's likely to be a lot less.

"Here we have people barely making $20,000 a year, that's a big difference in the way the school district is going to be held up," said Marin City parent Ricky Coleman.

More and more districts in California, even the less affluent ones are relying on help from foundations. There are 600 of them directly involved with school districts in California.

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