Frequently Asked Questions

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What is BCE?
The Burlingame Community for Education Foundation (BCE) is a volunteer-driven, non-profit 501(c)(3) charitable organization that raises funds for Burlingame School District (BSD) that includes all elementary schools and Burlingame Intermediate School (BIS). For the past 35 years, our grant makes a positive impact on every student in our school district and builds a stronger Burlingame.

How is BCE governed?
BCE is governed by a 16-member Board of Directors, and supported by three paid staff members: one full-time Director of Operations, a part-time Operations Specialist and a part-time Administrative Assistant, whom are also parents of current students in the district. The Board of Directors is comprised of parents in the school district, with representation from all schools. A member of the BSD Board of Trustees, the Superintendent, a school principal, and the PTA Council President serve as liaisons, attending the quarterly public Board meetings. Directors’ terms are for two years, commencing on July 1 and concluding on June 30, and are staggered to ensure smooth leadership transitions. In addition to the Board of Directors, there are more than 200+ BCE volunteers who generously give their time serving on the BCE Advisory Board, its various committees, and events. Learn more about our organizational structure and board members here.

What is the difference between BCE and PTA?
BCE’s core mission is fundraising, while PTA’s core mission is community-building, child advocacy, parent education, classroom and teacher support.  There are important differences in what BCE and PTA can support through fundraising efforts.  For example, only BCE dollars can fund accredited teacher salaries.  BCE’s district-wide grant benefits every TK-8th grade student, creates equality and consistency among school sites, and ensures equitable and effective allocation of program, staff, and resources across the district. Your school’s PTA (Parent-Teacher Association) raises money to address site-specific needs such as playground equipment, classroom supplies, and campus beautification. Both organizations are important for your school to thrive.

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What programs are covered by the BCE grant?
Your BCE donations make a positive impact on every TK-8th grade student in our school district.

Every year, thanks to your generosity, BCE grants our district approximately $2 million in unrestricted funds to boost our school budget. The funds are applied towards additional teachers and specialists who enhance the classroom experience, professional development to support our teachers, and academic program enrichment in areas such as science, music, and math.  This funding supplements the amount received from the State of California, local parcel taxes, and federal funds.

Academic Program Enrichment:

  • Math and science curriculum specialists
  • Choral and instrumental music program for TK – 8th grade
  • Credentialed physical education specialists
  • Middle school musical

Classroom Experience Improvements:

  • Teacher salaries to support small TK-3rd grade class sizes
  • Instructional aides for 4th-5th grade classes
  • Library specialists for TK – 8th grade
  • Professional lunchtime supervision

Teacher Professional Development:

  • District math and science coaching
  • Integrated art program
  • Director of Innovation

What You Can Do:
Unlike many states that have sufficient education funding to cover the costs of a well-rounded enriched primary education, California has one of the lowest rates of education funding per student.  That’s why many cities across California have an education foundation (a 501(c)(3) nonprofit public benefit corporation) to help increase the amount of funding per student and maintain an academic experience comparable with other top schools.

It is only with your support that we can take good public schools and make them into great public schools. Every donation is appreciated and it will make a difference to all of our students. So please consider making an annual donation every fall to BCE.

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How are decisions made on what is funded?
The BCE Board of Directors allocates a grant to BSD each September based on the funds we raise during the previous fiscal year ending on June 30th. Funding priorities are identified through thoughtful collaboration with BSD’s administration, board of trustees, and information collected through parent surveys and public comments at school board meetings. Final program and funding decisions rest with Burlingame School District’s administrators and our elected school board trustees who manage the $25+ million district budget.

Can I earmark my BCE donation to a specific program?
No. The BSD Board and administration make the decisions about how to spend the district budget, and BCE’s grant gives them added flexibility. If you have input on district spending, it’s important for you to voice your opinions to your elected BSD Board of Trustees and the Superintendent of Schools. Board meetings are the first Tuesday of every month and are open to the public, and board and staff contact information is on the BSD website.

What do BCE finances look like? Is the organization fiscally responsible?
BCE accrues typical business expenses, such as insurance, telephone, office supplies, postage, and staff salaries. We work very hard to keep our expenses reasonable, managing them at 15% which even includes expenses for our annual gala.  Also, like any fiscally responsible non-profit organization, we maintain board restricted savings (reserve) to ensure stability in our budget planning from year-to-year. BCE is transparent about finances, providing profit & loss statements at all of our public board meetings, and will provide a copy of our budget upon request.  You can learn more about our finances in our most recent annual report.

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Why do public schools need private money?
Unlike many states that have sufficient education funding to cover the costs of a well-rounded enriched primary education, California has one of the lowest rates of education funding per student.  CA ranks 45th in the nation in state funding per pupil, and provides $3,500 less per student than the national average.

We Burlingame parents are fortunate to have a strong local education foundation in place  to help increase the amount of funding per student and maintain an academic experience comparable with other top schools.

Public funding is not enough to provide the kind of public education our children deserve. Local parcel taxes and bond measures help, but do not completely cover the need. Our foundation can.

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How much does the Burlingame School District need from BCE?
In collaboration with the district, BCE sets a fundraising goal before the start of the school year. Generally, that total amount will allow the district the flexibility to maintain current programs while creating areas for deeper investment. The more funds we can raise, the more the district can do.

We raised $1,900,000 during the 2015-2016 annual campaign which maintains the programs we currently support year after year, and because it was significantly more than the previous year’s grant, also allowed us to help fund the technology integration curriculum and the new visual and performing arts (VAPA) integration program.

It’s very simple.  The more we raise together as a community, the more we can do for our kids.

Visit our annual campaign page for more detailed information.

Why should I donate to BCE?
Everyone decides their own priorities when it comes to charitable giving to non-profits, and BCE hopes donors will stay close to home. The simple fact is that the State of California is not currently supporting education at a level that will provide the education we expect for Burlingame students. The Burlingame Community values education, believes in Burlingame students, and has made BCE a philanthropic priority for over three decades. An investment in BCE is an investment in Burlingame kids and our community.

What amount should I give?
It is only with your support that we can take good public schools and make them into great public schools. We suggest an annual donation of $1,250 per student every fall, or $100/month if you start in July. We also recognize that many families may not be able to contribute at such a level. Every donation is appreciated and will make a difference to all of our students, so please consider making an annual donation every fall to BCE.

In helping you determine that amount, you may want to consider that California spends $3,500 less per child than the national average which is offset by local funding sources such as Burlingame parcel taxes, bond measures and the BCE grant. For your reference, neighboring school districts with Academic Performance Index (API) scores similar to or higher than Burlingame have the following suggested donations per child by their school foundations:  San Carlos, $1,200; Los Altos, $1,200; Mill Valley, $1,200; Menlo Park, $1,500; Belmont-Redwood Shores, $1,500; Hillsborough, $2,300.

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What is your Scholars Circle Program?
BCE acknowledges that donations of all amounts are critical to our mission. The Scholars Circle Program recognizes those individuals, businesses and organizations that contribute at the $2,500 level and above. We realize that philanthropy is a personal decision, and we greatly appreciate those donors who choose to partner with us and support BCE’s goals and mission by contributing at this leadership level. Scholars Circle donors are invited and encouraged to attend periodic gatherings with the Superintendent and other Scholars Circle donors. These events offer donors the opportunity to learn more about the impact of their leadership level support and engage in thoughtful discussions with fellow Scholars Circle donors.

Can I donate stock or bonds?
Yes, BCE will gladly accept the donation of stock or bonds. We encourage you to check with your financial advisor regarding the tax-deductibility of your gift. For more information please visit our stock donation page.

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Does BCE reach out to the community and businesses?
Yes, and we depend on contact from parent volunteers to help make these connections, because businesses tend to give to people they know or with whom they’ve developed a relationship. Many of the businesses that support BCE started with a parent relationship. The Burlingame Spirit Run is a great example of a BCE event that reaches the entire community. In 2012, it started with one parent’s vision coupled with another parent who is a physician at Palo Alto Medical Foundation. As a result of this partnership, BCE secured a title sponsorship for this event.  If you would like to help with business outreach or are an interested business, please email business@bcefoundation.org.

What if I am displeased with my student’s experience?
For questions or concerns about programs, you should contact your elected school Board of Trustees, who represent you – their constituency – in ensuring district administration is doing what the voters want. For specific concerns about your student, we encourage you to talk with your teacher. If your concern isn’t resolved, talk with your school’s principal. In most cases, issues can be resolved at the school level. All BSD stakeholders are committed to providing every student in the district the best education possible and fostering a lifelong love of learning.

Has BCE considered creating an endowment?
BCE established an endowment fund in 2015, in consultation with Silicon Valley Planned Giving Council.  The BCE Endowment Fund provides long-term stability to BSD, and has been established for outgoing families and community donors who would like to make a long-term impact or a legacy gift.  If you are interested in making an investment in BCE’s endowment or if you can help with our endowment planning committee, please email us at info@bcefoundation.org for more information.

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