February 2017 Update

February 2017

Dear OTA Family & Friends,

Operating a charter school allows educational opportunities not found in traditional public school but also has its challenges. The greatest challenge is that charter schools receive much less funding per student than other district public schools. The gaps in funding between traditional and charter schools have been documented in several reports, such as the one from the California Legislative Analysts Office in 2012 documenting a 7% gap. On top of this, charter schools are on their own to finance the facility they operate in, pay district oversight fees and they must provide their own back office business support. For this school year and next, the gap between what is covered by state funding and what must be provided to bridge the gap by the OTA Parent Foundation is $90,000 per year.

What sets Old Town Academy apart from your local public school? Our operational budget has been stretched to cover a full-time STEM teacher, full-time PE teacher, two part-time music teachers (piano & guitar) and a part-time Spanish teacher. Helping to maintain our small school atmosphere, OTA have an amazing group of teachers, which are supported as well by three K-3 aides and Education Specialist.

What has the OTA Parent Foundation done to support our school this year and help grow its unique environment? Last year’s Spring Fundraising, which is a combination of our Gala and Online Auction raised $105,000. These funds have gone to support:
• $60,000 toward the OTA operational budget (plus an additional $20,000 from Jog-A-Thon)
• Full funding of a 2-year Biology program ($20,000)
• Full funding for the 2nd year of the Robotics proposal ($5,000)
• $1,000 toward the Spring Middle School Robotics Team Registration
• $11,000 to support a K-3 Art Consultant
• $3,600 for Teacher/Staff Holiday bonuses
• Currently in process: funding 5 $500 Teacher Grants ($2500) for:
o Lacrosse equipment
o School Newspaper for 2 quarters
o Coding Software
o Music software
o Cart for Art supplies

This year, the Parent Foundation has also started the process of bringing in other types of fundraising so that we do not completely rely on the Spring Fundraiser and Jog-A-Thon. Our 360 Bridge the Gap Campaign, where our goal was that if every family contributed $360 per child we would already bridge our $90,000 budget gap, is off to a good start in its inaugural year. We have raised $3927. This is a program we wish to grow next year. Every bit of funding helps and we launched our Amazon Smile Program https://smile.amazon.com/ch/47-5222952 to get a little bit back from every dollar you spend using Amazon.

The theme of our Spring Fundraising this year is “Together We Grow”. Together the parents and friends of OTA can come together and support our Gala and Online Auction to raise the funds needed to first meet our budget needs and then to support growth in educational opportunity at OTA. $70,000 of the funds raised will be given directly to OTA to help meet the budget gap. Mr. C and the school board analyze the budget in May/June and they will work to stretch that budget as far as we can to both support our existing programs that set OTA apart from traditional schools and to assess what new programs or training can be brought to OTA starting with further training in Project Based Learning for OTA’s teachers. With funds beyond this, the Parent Foundation will further work to support the programs and improvements that parents wish to see at OTA. The OTA Parent Foundation is currently hoping to improve the outdoor play spaces in both the Kindergarten play yard and the turf area. We are obtaining estimates to see how far our money can stretch to improve recess and outdoor activity for our students. We wish to continue our support and improve our support of music, robotics and art. What is our goal? Well, our wishes to improve our students K-8th education are endless but let us set a goal to beat last year. Let us set a goal of $150,000 and work to beat it! Only by working together can we do this.

Parent Foundation Meetings are held the 1st Wednesday of the month from 6-8pm in either the Seminar Room or 7th grade room and are open to all OTA Parents. Please come join us as we discuss how to support and better our children’s education.

Sincerely,

Monika Hanft
OTA Foundation President