One East is Our Opportunity to Save Our Schools
An unprecedented challenge demands an unprecedented response.
Because of Covid-19, our East Grand Rapids school district is facing a $2.85 million deficit.
We can help.
More than 62% of school funding comes from sales & income taxes— not property taxes! Covid-19 has caused a school funding shortfall greater than the one during the Great Recession. Schools across Michigan will be impacted, but together, we can lessen the blow here at home through One East.
Any contribution to One East will make a difference. We’re trying to raise $653 per student. That's $653 so a child can learn to read and write, so a child can learn another language or learn to code, so a child can play a sport or an instrument and prepare to play a part in the future of our world.
Many of us are facing economic hardship in this crisis, but many of us have also spent far less than normal over the last few months. Now, instead of sending 6% of our purchases to Lansing, we can use 100% of that money to support our schools right here at home.
Are you in?
You can donate to One East right now.
One East: Frequently Asked Questions
Why do our schools need this money?
Because of Covid-19, our schools are facing an extraordinary budget crisis. More than 60 percent of school funding comes from state sales and income taxes, not our local property taxes. Projections show reduced state revenue because of Covid-19 may create a deficit of $2.85 million for East Grand Rapids Public Schools, far greater than deficits during the Great Recession.
How will One East help?
An unprecedented challenge demands an unprecedented response. The Foundation is organizing One East, a community-wide, coordinated fundraising effort so every dollar raised by school entities this summer supports programs in our district that are in danger of being cut. One East is bringing together organizations, students and families at all our schools to protect the East Grand Rapids Public Schools’ Tradition of Excellence. That means every dollar raised will go directly to our schools.
Why can’t the Foundation use the funds in its endowment to cover the shortfall?
That’s not what the endowment was created to do, and that’s not what donors to the Now&Forever endowment campaign intended. The current board did make an aggressive decision to approve a 20% increase in the amount allowable for this year because of COVID. Thanks to its donors, the Foundation will provide more than $330,000 to our schools this year. This is not a practice that can be used annually while still being prudent fiduciaries of the funds that were donated to the endowment over the last 30 years and by the 900 families and staff who support the most recent campaign. Although we "finished" the campaign, many of the 900 families and staff who supported this effort made pledges over a three-year period. A good portion of these funds have not been collected to date and therefore are not part of the calculation that can be drawn upon. When all donors have completed the pledge, the endowment will generate half a million dollars for our schools every year for many, many years to come. Over the course of students’ years at East, the endowment will provide more than $6.5 million for their education.
What’s the timeline for One East?
This is urgent. Beginning with the Board of Education’s budget meeting June 15, we have only 45 days to raise money to protect vital school programs before the district has to present a balanced budget at the end of July. That means the funds One East is able to raise to protect school programs and help preserve the district’s fund balance will have to be collected by July 31.
Will One East bring back programs that are on the list of recommended cuts?
That’s the goal, but that will require the campaign to be incredibly successful. The district has already recommended $1.25 million in cuts, which would still require using another $1.6 million in the district’s fund balance to offset the shortfall of $2.85 million. Using that much of the fund balance would drop the district below the state-required 5% fund balance threshold, meaning we could lose local control of our schools. Yes, this is that serious. At its June 15 budget meeting the Board of Education asked the district to come up with additional cuts to keep that from happening. It’s possible that the state or federal government will provide more funding for our schools, but no one knows when or if that will happen. One East is an opportunity for our community to save our schools from this dire situation. If we’re able to meet our extremely ambitious fundraising goal of $2.85 million, cuts will be prevented. It’s up to us.