|A PUBLIC SCHOOLS FOUNDATION
Serving the public schools of Santa Cruz and Santa Clara Counties
|SCHOOLS PLUS PROGRAM OVERVIEW
Santa Cruz County is comprised of many small communities situated on the coast that rely heavily on seasonal summer trade or farming for their economic well-being. Many of the students in the school system are children whose parents are farm workers or hourly laborers and fall in the lower economic scale. Some struggle with the English language and many have problems related to poverty. SCHOOLS PLUS recognizes the problems the teachers face trying to develop special programs and projects for their students because of limited funds since the passage of Proposition 13. SCHOOLS PLUS awards funds to teachers in the amount of $500 to $1,500 to use for creative and innovative classroom projects. These funds enable teachers to update and tailor their curriculum to meet the needs of the students, experiment with new methods of teaching, and create special projects and programs. SCHOOLS PLUS provides other programs and services including funds for library books/materials to the Santa Cruz County students, teachers, and schools in its effort to promote excellence in education. The following districts comprise the Santa Cruz County Public School system: Bonny Doon, Happy Valley, Live Oak, Mountain, Pacific, Pajaro Valley, San Lorenzo Valley, Santa Cruz City, Scotts Valley, and Soquel.
The extra support that we provide to the teachers is a clear indication to them that we commend their efforts, value education, and affirms to our students that we have an investment in their future.
Teacher Classroom Project Grant Program/IMPACT II: A unique teacher/classroom program that awards funds of $500 to $1,500 for creative and innovative projects for classroom use that directly impacts the quality of education for students. IMPACT II is a follow-up program to identify exemplary projects and curricular innovations that provides additional funds for teachers to package (disseminate) these with colleagues throughout the county for teachers to develop (adapt) successful projects and learn from each other’s good ideas and, ultimately, more students will benefit. This is the only program of its kind in the county. It is a program that is highly regarded by the teachers, students, administrators, parents, and Boards of Education in Santa Cruz and Santa Clara Counties.
OTHER PROGRAMS AND SERVICES
Annual Library Grant: SCHOOLS PLUS has established the Barbara Bricmont Library Fund to award grants that will help to keep books and technology current. California schools still rate among the lowest in the nation in library support to schools. SCHOOLS PLUS will continue these grants for as long as needed.
Annual Awards Dinner: An annual event to give recognition and honor individuals, businesses, and organizations that volunteer their time, donate funds, or give in-kind services to assist the public schools in our county. The Elena Baskin Award, created in memory of a former SCHOOLS PLUS Board member who served as Chairperson of the Allocations Committee for many years, is presented to honorees who exemplify Elena’s dedication and commitment to students, teachers, and public education in Santa Cruz County through their volunteer efforts. Having been a teacher herself, Elena understood well the importance of community support for public education.
Outcomes-Evaluation Methodology: The Teacher Classroom Project Grant Program and other services have been in operation for many years and we have teacher statements and documentation confirming the success of our support to the schools. In the case of the Teacher Classroom Project Grants Program, the teachers are required to send an evaluation at the end of the term.
Many of the classroom projects granted have expanded from the immediate classroom to include the entire school In two schools, one an elementary, we granted seed money to start an audio/video lab. In both schools the labs have grown because the community saw the value of the program and have contributed equipment, volunteer time, and funds to build the program to allow all classes to have access to this resource.
A DNA classroom project in one high school has resulted in including this study for all high school students in the district. So many schools in the county have been impacted and changed because of the Teacher Classroom Project Grants Program. It is a program that allows and rewards teachers to be creative and innovative, resulting in making education more interesting, current, and fun for the students.
SCHOOLS PLUS is the first countywide, multiple district non-profit organization serving all 68 public schools in Santa Cruz County. It was founded in 1984 by a group of concerned citizens, parents, community leaders, and educators as a grassroots response to offset the impact of Proposition 13 on schools at the local level. SCHOOLS PLUS has put over $1,500,000 into the schools. The money has helped fund innovative projects in math, science, and language; provided books and technology; improved physical education; and kept music, arts, and sports alive for the students. The SCHOOLS PLUS Board of Directors and staff are active in all aspects of the organization. SCHOOLS PLUS works closely with all the public schools/districts in Santa Cruz County.
Support innovative and creative teaching and foster curricular excellence for the benefit of students, and create a network of professional support and exchange for teachers.
A FINAL WORD
We are very excited about our affiliation with Teachers Network and expanding our Teacher Classroom Project Grant Program in Santa Cruz County and developing the expanded program in Santa Clara County (Silicon Valley) in collaboration with the Santa Clara County Office of Education. The New Teacher programs in both counties are also a critical part of this expanded program. Their participation will make new teachers aware of the benefits of the program and enable them to apply for project grants at the start of their teaching careers.