School board changes CSF designation

The Conejo Schools Foundation (CSF) will not be registering as a booster this fiscal year. CSF will now operate solely under the CVUSD bylaws by the board of education, as stated in policy 1260, in order to maintain official business with the school district. CSF has always been under this policy, however they are no longer going to be recognized as a booster program.

The policy is meant to allow CSF to support CVUSD financially and with programs such as the GetAhead program run by CSF which lasts 24.5 days. It also explicitly states that even though an outside organization may support CVUSD, the two are completely separate from a legal standpoint. School board policy 1260 states, “The Board recognizes that an educational foundation is a separate legal entity, independent of the district.” 

When the foundation first started, it was registered as a booster because it did not initially carry its own insurance, but that changed before they obtained their WASC accreditation when they acquired insurance and because the district no longer required it. A booster organization is a non-profit organization that’s goal is to support a club, entity, or organization and will often times hold events to raise money and help promote their cause. Despite the fact that CSF obtained their own insurance, their classification as a booster continued.

Mike Soules, the president of CSF, spoke at the school board meeting on Sept. 17, trying to clarify any misconceptions about the organization’s former classification. “It was important to sign the booster agreement so that we had coverage in terms of our liability and also being covered in terms of being recognized as a booster organization,” he said. 

Cindy Goldberg, school board member and executive director of CSF, said, “There was no CVUSD Board Policy in place and the District wanted to be able to codify the relationship. (The booster agreement) was the only mechanism available at that time. It never was intended to, nor did it in actuality, operate as a traditional booster club.” 

 At recent board meetings, community members like Amy Chen, a candidate who lost in the 2018 CVUSD school board election, shared their concerns about CSF’s designation. Chen asked the board to compare the treatment of the Thousand Oaks Chinese School with CSF saying that “(the Chinese school) is charged $70K… so (CSF gets $550K) of our taxpayer money, while another nonprofit has to pay above and beyond the direct costs to the district.” 

Dr. Victor Hayek, Assistant Superintendent of Business, said that, “the chinese school is on there but the csf is not” referring to the blinded list of the direct cost of each organization, and that the Thousand Oaks Chinese school was and CSF was not on the list. The list was brought up in a presentation by Hayek, and it presented the direct cost of each organization and the facilities it uses, however it did not mention the name of the organization, and as Dr. Hayek stated, CSF was not on the blinded list.

CSF’s GetAhead program is a WASC-accredited (Western Association of Schools and Colleges) program that hires its own teachers and principal, pays for the space they use, exists as a separate entity from CVUSD, and only uses school facilities in the summer for 24.5 days. In addition, the school district receives the money that CSF pays from rent.

As Goldberg stated, CSF will continue to “support programs and schools within the CVUSD, provide Cash4Conejo Classrooms grants, offer programs such as the All District Music Festival, Tedx youth conejo, parent/guardian education workshops, and many other enrichment opportunities for students, teachers, and families.”

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