2012 News

Oct. 26, 2012

AUSD is $38,000 richer

CAPS donates money for programs, equipment

Creig P. Sherburne ATASCADERO NEWS

ATASCADERO In a time when Atascadero Unified School District has had to cut literally millions of dollars from its budget, a $38,000 windfall represents a lot of good in the form of field trips, extra activities and materials. And that's exactly what the Committee for Atascadero Public Schools bestowed to the district on Tuesday, Oct. 16.

"I love following students who have expressed enthusiasm over programs that AUSD offers and can continue to offer, and that is exactly what CAPS wants to be able to do," outgoing CAPS Chair Lori Mello said. "Not only help provide extra funds for these extras, but keep up that enthusiasm."

CAPS is an organization that was created specifically to help fill some of AUSD's financial holes left by constantly dwindling revenues from the state of California. It does that by raising money via a yearly fundraising dinner, soliciting grants and then writing checks to fulfill some of those grants.

This year, the total raised and distributed was $38,000, which brings the amount CAPS has donated since its inception to more than $300,000. The way the money will be used will vary widely.

"It was really fun reading the grants because it was such a huge variety of stuff that people asked for," Kathy Peterson. "We gave away 15 trips and those ranged from going to Hearst Castle to Emy Bruzzo's team going off some place. " We had 11 people ask for iPads, so we're buying 11 iPads. We're buying 12 netbooks for the junior high. And 11 different sets of books are going out to various places."

This year's donation of $38,000 is down from last year's $72,000, but Mello pointed out something very positive: "In an age of less and less and less money and having to ask teachers to do more and more with less and less " We are happy to report that we are able to present $38,000," she said.

For more information about CAPS or to participate, go to www.atascaderocaps.org

May 4, 2012

The Channel Islands Service Center Council of the California Teachers Association selected CAPS to receive the Gold Award for Outstanding Citizen. CAPS was nominated by the Atascadero district Teachers'Association. The award was presented to CAPS representatives Melanie Karp and Kathy Peterson by ADTA president Tracy Ellis-Weit.

From the Atascadero News on Jan. 25, 2012:

You can't cap CAPS

BY: Creig P. Sherburne

Posted: Friday, Jan 25th, 2012

The Committee for Atascadero Public Schools was formed with one simple but far-reaching goal: present grants to all Atascadero public schools so those schools can buy equipment and field trips and other similar educational tools.

It's had quite a bit of success, too. Kathy Peterson, a retired kindergarten teacher, is in charge of registrations, maintaining CAPS' website and does a plethora of other technical and general volunteer work. She said that since its inception , CAPS has bestowed just shy of $300,000 worth of grants through the district.

That money, she said, is raised through local sponsors and at an annual dinner and auction. Last year, Peterson said, CAPS received approximately $12,000 from sponsors, $12,000 from ticket sales, $38,000 from the live and silent auctions and $10,000 from miscellaneous donations.

In case you weren't counting , that's a total of approximately $72,000, the vast majority of which was put directly into Atascadero Unified School District schools.

"We have a very generous community ," Peterson said.

The dinner event is a big deal for CAPS. This year, it will be held on Saturday, Aug. 11 at the Atascadero Pavilion on the Lake. CAPS chairwoman Lori Mello said that last year, the event included dinner, live and silent auctions and dancing, and that's the plan for 2012, as well.

"Managing the event, securing a location, catering, a band, if we have a band, coordinating the volunteers , it's kind of like planning a wedding," Mello said.

She went on to say that all of the auction items are donated and that each school site builds a gift basket to be auctioned off. In the past, she said, auction items have included everything from dinners at local restaurants and products from local shops to trips to Hawaii and everything in between.

Another big deal for CAPS is processing grants.

Peterson said that the grant process isn't complex, but there are a few steps.

First, an educator writes his or her grant request. The paperwork is available on CAPS' website, www. atascaderocaps.org. There's a limit of $1,000 per request. All grants get mailed to CAPS' post office box.

Once received, CAPS volunteers sort the grants by school site. Then, a panel of three readers read each and every grant. The panel, Peterson said, usually includes a retired educator from each significant grade grouping: elementary , junior high and high school.

Then comes the hard part: choosing which and how much of the grants will be granted.

"Reading the grants is ecult because we have to turn things down," Peterson said.

Peterson also said that CAPS tries very hard to distribute grant money based on the number of students. For instance, if CAPS had $100,000 to distribute and there were 10,000 students in AUSD, CAPS would distribute grants to reflect approximately $10 per student. That means that Carrisa Plains Elementary gets less grant money than Atascadero High School, but it receives the same amount per student .

And, she added, CAPS doesn't give grants for things such as pencils or paper. CAPS grants funds for more substantial things that the district isn't required or able to provide. For instance, last year CAPS provided four Casio keyboards to Atascadero Junior High School, a touch-screen monitor to San Gabriel Elementary, funding for six field trips at Monterey Road Elementary, calculators and rechargeable batteries to AHS and lots of document projectors to a lot of schools.

"The projectors are really popular," Peterson said.

So popular, she added, that CAPS has granted a total of 72 of them throughout the district to date. In addition, Peterson said, in previous years, CAPS has had an extra auction called "fund a need." Fund a need, she said, is a little different from the normal auction, in that CAPS will select a need elementary school libraries needing to buy books or funding new AHS marching band uniforms, for instance and will solicit donations for that cause at the auction. It's not a standard auction in that buyers do not receive anything for their money.

"You don't get anything for it," Peterson said, "except to have done it."

Peterson said she is not yet sure what the fund a need item will be this year.

One thing she is sure about is the need for volunteers.

"It's just a bunch of volunteers raising money and giving it to teachers in what we hope is a fair way," Peterson said.

"We'll take as little or as much help as a person can provide," Mello agreed. "We try to encourage community members in general aunts and uncles and grandparents, but anyone who feels the need to [get involved]."

Mello gave the example of a volunteer doing nothing more than visiting a single local business to pitch a sponsorship. One such person is volunteer-at-large Jeannie Malik. She works with the Atascadero Chamber of Commerce, among others, and said the chamber has been involved since CAPS' inception .

"They're one of my favorite organizations," Malik said, "and our teachers depend on [CAPS] now."

For more information on CAPS, go to www.atascaderocaps.org, call 952-5443 or go to its first meeting of 2012 tonight at the AUSD district office , 5601 West Mall in Atascadero, at 6:30 p.m.

The meeting is open to the public and free of charge.

CAPS received the "Organization of the Year" award at the annual installation dinner January 28th at the Pavilion on the Lake from the Atascadero Chamber of Commerce! Great job everyone!