JSIS PTA Annual Fund Frequently Asked Questions
Thanks for taking an interest in learning more about the JSIS PTA Annual Fund! If you don't see an answer to a question you have, please don't hesitate to email firstname.lastname@example.org
Q: What is the Annual Fund?
The Annual Fund is a direct fundraising appeal to JSIS families to pay for staff that is vital to our international school and that the school district does not fund. The Annual Fund started 14 years ago and is John Stanford International School's most important fundraiser of the year, directly supporting our school's mission to create culturally diverse, life-long learners who will become better global citizens.
The campaign runs March 20-March 31, benefiting the 2017-2018 school year.
Q: Why do we need to fundraise?
JSIS relies solely upon the generosity of families to fund critical staff positions that are not covered by the Seattle Public School district.
The Seattle Public School district does not provide any extra funding for the unique requirements of an immersion program and that includes any critical staff positions to support dual language learning such as Instructional Assistants (IAs) or interns. They do not take into consideration the unique staffing challenges or curricular resource requirements of a dual-language immersion school (e.g., hiring and retaining native speaking instructors, maintaining appropriate class sizes and mix given instruction happens in a second language, etc.).
Furthermore, the current district-wide budget crisis will likely decrease our overall school budget for next year. While the budget hasn't been finalized, and it won't be for several months, we have to plan for a reduction in staff, increased class sizes, and the possibility of other non-classroom positions such as counseling or reading support not being available.
Each spring, we come together as a school to show our support through the Annual Fund, and this year, that support may be more critical than ever.
Q: How does my donation support JSIS?
Donations to the Annual Fund go directly to pay for staff positions for next school year, including 3.5 Instructional Assistants (IAs), 7 interns, an additional 0.5 certificated Kindergarten English teacher, and potentially other teaching positions if more money is raised.
The Annual Fund enables the school to provide the best available support for our children. With the additional support in the classroom, it provides opportunities for advanced learning as well as remedial support in subject areas, such as math, science and social studies, which are taught in the immersion language. It also provides more opportunities to practice the target language since more fluent speakers will be at school helping with homework in the mornings, supervising on the playground, and enjoying lunchtime with students.
Additionally, we anticipate the following benefits:
- Low student to teacher ratio--a private school environment for a fraction of the cost with potential 13:1 ratio instead of a 30:1 ratio in our immersion language classrooms! This translates to more help for your child and more focused, personal attention for your child.
- Higher rate of language acquisition--our children learn the language faster by having two fluent speakers in the classroom that can focus on language acquisition and ensure comprehension of the curriculum.
- A jumpstart on learning with focused support at the kindergarten grade level with an additional 0.5 certificated English teacher. Studies have shown that if you can establish strong learning support in the early years, it will pay off in the upper grades. The teacher will help all kindergarteners learn foundational reading and writing skills. This is done through more small group instruction to better support individual student needs. If all kindergarten needs are met, the teacher will support students in other grades.
- A comprehensive program that looks at the whole child--both English and Japanese/Spanish language development.
Q: What is the goal for this year's campaign?
The goal for this year's campaign is 100% participation.
How much you give is entirely up to you. What matters most is we come together as a school to support our wonderful staff and students. We have suggested a donation level of $600 per child to hit our minimum target to pay for additional learning support for next year.
Q: Why should I donate?
By donating, you pay for key staff positions which means a better learning environment for your child. The money raised goes toward staff for our amazing dual-language program, positions that the Seattle Public School district does not fund.
Q: My student is in 5th grade, why should I donate?
You will be paying it forward while saying "thank you" to the school your child has enjoyed for the past six years. Throughout the time that your student has attended JSIS, she/he reaped the benefits of many other generous donations. By donating, you will help ensure that future students enjoy the same great experience your child had. Your donation also helps ensure that many of the staff that have helped your child through their time at JSIS will remain part of our school.
Q: How much should I donate?
Donate whatever you feel most comfortable giving. Your donation is kept confidential.
For this year's campaign the suggested donation amount is $600 per student. This level of giving across the community will ensure that all the planned support positions for next year can be funded.
Whether you give $1 or $10,000 we'd love your support! Donate now: tinyurl.com/JSIS2017
Q: Is it really OK to donate just a $1?
Yes! Every dollar counts! Our goal is 100% participation.
Your donation is kept confidential. No judgement will be made.
And, if you prefer to donate time instead of money, there are a myriad of other ways to support the school. Click on this link
to explore some great volunteer opportunities.
Q: Why is the suggested donation amount $600 per student?
$600 per student was set by the PTA Annual Fund committee after much deliberation with many parents, teachers, the Building Leadership Team, the PTA, and Ms. Sarah. The decision was not taken lightly or done without thorough financial review.
The $600 per student amount is roughly 40% less than the donation ask from previous years because the staffing plan costs less than before and we are able to apply "unspent donations" that have accrued from past campaigns. $600 per student covers the cost of next school year's staffing plan (3.5 IAs, 7 interns, and 0.5 Kindergarten English certificated teacher). With this plan, every language immersion classroom will have a second fluent Japanese or Spanish speaker and kindergarteners will have additional support in their English classrooms. These are costs that are not covered by the Seattle Public Schools district, so JSIS families have to pay if we want this additional support.
Q: How exactly will my donation be used?
Donations will go toward the cost of next school year's staffing plan: 3.5 IAs, 7 interns, and a 0.5 certificated Kindergarten English teacher. Funds raised will be deposited into the PTA bank accounts. As the school requires funding (either to show the district that positions can be supported through available funds prior to the start of the school, to transfer funds to the district to pay for IAs, or to pay intern costs), Ms. Sarah requests funds from the PTA to support those specific costs as they are needed.
Q: What is an IA? An intern?
Instructional Assistants (IAs) and interns are an essential part of our immersion language program. JSIS benefits from a combination of IA and interns, as each provide unique benefits.
The IAs are full-time, US-based salaried professionals. In most cases, IAs return year after year. Some progress to become a primary classroom teacher. This continuity helps JSIS staff foster a culture of sustainability and consistency in the classroom around teaching methods and approaches.
Our interns are adults from Spain and Japan who are native speakers with enthusiasm for teaching. Some of the interns are fully qualified teachers in their home countries. Interns stay for only one school year so new interns require some training and mentoring on the JSIS program each year. Each intern stays with a JSIS host family, as a means to offset housing and food costs. There is a significant cost difference between an IA and an intern.
Both IAs and interns ultimately provide the heritage speaking experience that benefits our kids and reduce class size to 13:1.
Q: How do I donate?
There are two easy ways to donate:
By Credit Card:
- Write a check to JSIS PTSA with a note that it's for the Annual Fund. Return it to the office or mail to: JSIS PTA, 4057 5th Ave NE, Seattle, WA 98105
Q: How do I double the impact of my donation? What about matching programs?
For those that have employer matching gift programs, please take advantage of it! Donations are being made to JSIS PTSA which is a 501(c)(3).
If you think your company might offer a match, please check this website
or contact your employer. The Annual Fund team may also be able to tell you if your company has matched grants in the past (email@example.com
Company matches are a huge deal for the Annual Fund. In recent years, company match dollars accounted for over $70,000 in additional funds for our school. Microsoft, the Gates Foundation, Starbucks, Tableau, and Boeing are just a few of the many generous employers that offer matching funds. Many other companies have matching programs.
Q: Is my donation tax deductible?
Yes, donations are made to JSIS PTSA which is a 501(c)(3).
The JSIS PTSA's federal Employer Identification Number (EIN) is 94-308455.
Q: How do I get a receipt of my donation?
With our new donation system, if you paid via credit card on Network for Good you should have received an auto-generated tax receipt. If you paid by check, it's a manual process. The Annual Fund team (firstname.lastname@example.org
) will be emailing thank-you letters within 2-3 months after the campaign has finished. It will include information needed for tax purposes.
Q: What happens if we don't raise enough money?
If we do not raise enough money, then we will not be able to retain and hire critical staff positions for the upcoming school year. What this means is that current staff may lose their position at JSIS, there may be language classrooms that do not have a second fluent Japanese or Spanish speaker, and our kindergarteners will not have the best support for English to start their elementary school years.
Q: What happens if we raise more money than expected?
This would be amazing! Should we be in this very fortunate situation, we will fund the next highest staffing priorities set by the teachers, the Building Leadership Team, PTA, and Ms. Sarah, given the significant staffing risks created by the district budget crisis:
- additional staff for any class that has over 30 students
- additional staff for counselor position
While there had been significant discussions over the past six months about allocating some of the past unspent donations or any "extra" funding to other important needs of the school, there are currently no plans to allocate funding to any of the concepts discussed including technology upgrades, curriculum development, support for other immersion schools in the district, etc. This could be revisited in the future but there are no plans for this in the 2017-2018 school year.
The money that was earmarked for curriculum development (per an Annual Fund email update in December 2016) has instead been repurposed to alleviate a split-class situation in an immersion language classroom.
Q: Why do we have unspent donations (i.e., surplus)?
There are several factors that contributed to the accumulation of unspent donations.
First, over the past three years we have experienced many different staffing models for IAs and interns including both the total number and the ratio of IAs and interns. This made the costs vary from year to year.
Second, there have been circumstances where the projected expenses changed significantly after the campaign: instances where the actual staff member hired had a lower salary than what was anticipated, a staff person left during the school year and was never backfilled, donations came in months later than when it could be used so got rolled over to the next year, etc.
Part of the reason for now recognizing this pool of unspent donations, is that that there had not been a consistent annual reconciliation of revenue and expenses for the fund. This is not a simple effort given the different funding flows, the complexity of district finances, and the distance created by our funds being held by the Alliance for Education. Going forward, we have allocated funds for stringing accounting support so that this reconciliation can be done each year.
We hope that these issues have now been addressed with a predictable staffing plan approach and improved financial management of the donations.
Q: What is the overall plan for the unspent donations?
The majority of the accumulated unspent donations will be applied toward next school year’s staffing plan. A minor portion of the donations will be held in reserve. The money that was earmarked for curriculum development (per a December 2016 email from the Annual Fund team to the JSIS community) has been repurposed to alleviate a mixed-grade class situation in an immersion language classroom.
Q: When does the Annual Fund campaign take place?
The 2017 Annual Fund campaign kicks off on March 20 and ends on March 31. We've shortened the fundraising window, so please make your donation today: http://tinyurl.com/JSIS2017
Q: Can I donate to the Annual Fund during a different time of the year?
Yes. While it is helpful if you can make your donation by March 31 as it provides Ms. Sarah certainty of the staff she can retain or hire, we'd be happy to take your donation at any time. Please contact email@example.com
if you know ahead of time that you will donate during a different time of the year.
Q: How does the Annual Fund differ from other PTA fundraisers?
The Annual Fund is a fundraiser specifically targeted at funding critical staff positions. Other PTA fundraisers go toward school supplies, our arts program, etc. A recent change was made to fold the Annual Fund under the PTA. It is now a committee within PTA and is an official PTA fundraiser.
Q: Can only JSIS families donate to the Annual Fund?
No, anyone can contribute to the Annual Fund! In the past, grandparents and other relatives have been generous supporters of our unique educational program. If you have the name of an individual (e.g., grandparent, aunt, uncle, etc.) or company that you believe may want to support the JSIS international program, please send them the link to the Annual Fund or send their name to firstname.lastname@example.org
and the committee will reach out to that individual. Even if you have provided names and addresses in the past, please do so again to be sure we cover everyone!
Q: Many schools have an auction as their main fundraiser. Wouldn't that be easier and raise more money?
Frankly, there's nothing easier and with less overhead than a direct appeal campaign. Auctions can be nice community-building events, but JSIS already has some terrific gatherings that bring together families. Auctions also require a tremendous amount of volunteer time. The Annual Fund is really the ultimate no-bake bake sale. You simply donate and the entirety of your donation goes straight towards critical staff positions.
Q: Who is on the Annual Fund volunteer team?
The JSIS PTA Annual Fund volunteer team is comprised of several dedicated parents from across grade levels and from both Japanese and Spanish language programs.
Q: Can I join the Annual Fund volunteer team?
Yes! Please contact email@example.com
for volunteer opportunities.