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Poway Schools Foundation Considering Corporate Sponsorships

— California public schools are in for another round of drastic funding cuts if voters don’t accept temporary sales and income tax increases in November. Poway schools are among many schools across the state looking at ways to bring in a more reliable stream of private money.

Last week, members of the Poway Unified School District Foundation took fundraising proposals to the district’s school board that included corporate sponsorships for things like technology, sports teams and school transportation.

The ideas are part of a plan to restructure the foundation and bring in more private revenue that began last fall. Kathleen Porter, the foundation's executive director, said drastic cuts to state funding for schools call for drastic measures to protect programs.

“Having some additional funding to do the things that five years ago were expected of us and now are luxuries for us - that’s what we’re really trying to do is bridge that budget shortfall as much as possible," she said.

The foundation’s consideration of corporate sponsorships has already drawn criticism from Public Citizen, a national consumer advocacy group opposed to advertising in schools.

“Children already are surrounded by near-constant advertising that promotes consumerism and commercial values,” said Robert Weissman, president of Public Citizen. “But the ubiquity of advertising is not a reason for allowing corporate naming rights and in-school advertising to persist; it is a reason children need a sanctuary from a world where everything seems to be for sale.”

Sponsorship is one of many ideas the foundation is developing along with new approaches to traditional fundraising and making school-specific foundations stronger, Porter said.

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