In 2001, in the face of serious budget shortfalls, the Belmont-Redwood Shores school district put a parcel tax measure on the ballot for approximately $4 million in funding for the district per year for 10 years—when that parcel tax failed the district announced that it would be ending instrumental music.
To local parent Dave Karlin, ending instrumental music for 4th and 5th graders was unimaginable. So he mobilized a group of parents to get the word out that there was still something the community could do to help our schools –donate money directly to the school district. In the last week of the school year their efforts raised $36,275. Thanks to these funds, and to the demonstrated message of how important having “extra” programs was to the Districts’ parents, the District retained instrumental music.
The generosity of those families who so willingly contributed to keep the instrumental music, along with the concern over chronic underfunding from the State of California, inspired and motivated a group of parents and community members to create a public education foundation for the Belmont-Redwood Shores school district: the School-Force, the Belmont-Redwood Shores Public Education Foundation.
In 2002 School-Force became a legal entity and received its non-profit status, joining the growing ranks of educational foundations all over California that serve to supplement shrinking school budgets. There are now over 1,000 Education Foundations throughout California (and only 1200 school districts) with 32 out of the 35 districts of San Mateo County alone.
Over the past 10 years, School-Force volunteers have spent hundreds of thousands of hours working to inform and energize the community, and the community has responded by helping us raise over $5 million dollars to fund educational programs in the Belmont-Redwood Shores school district.
Historically, School-Force donations have helped fund ‘nice to have’ programs such as the elementary school instrumental music program, science specialists, library staff, teachers’ aides and much more. However, with today’s economic challenges, School-Force is now also focused on raising money to provide ‘must have’ programs. In spring 2010, we raised an unprecedented $1.6 million dollars during the I’m In! campaign thanks to record numbers of parents, grandparents, teachers, community members, and local businesses that have chosen to support School-Force and make significant changes in our children’s lives. With everyone’s help, we can make a difference!!