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Residents Cool to Schools' Bid for Tax Rebates

December 20, 1987|JOHN L. MITCHELL | Times Staff Writer

Although school officials say they are satisfied with tax-rebate donations they are receiving, two Westside school districts are failing to meet projections set when campaigns for the tax windfall began a month ago.

The Beverly Hills Education Foundation, which was seeking $100,000 in rebates, has received $25,000. And the Santa Monica-Malibu Education Foundation, which set a goal of $50,000, has brought in $38,000.

"We are a little bit numb," said Allan Lebowitz, treasurer of the Santa Monica-Malibu foundation. "We are pleased to have received what we have, but of course we would like to have more."

"Our checks did not come in as we thought," said Helen Molitz, who coordinated fund raising for the Beverly Hills foundation.

The rebates are the result of the Gann initiative, which placed a limit on state spending and said that any leftover revenue should be returned to taxpayers. The state has until Jan. 15 to finish mailing the 12 million checks, totaling $1.1 billion in tax rebates.

Estimate Considered Low

The campaigns to encourage taxpayers to sign over their checks--ranging in amounts from $32 to $136 for single filers and $64 to $272 for couples--began earlier this year after state school officials were unable to convince Gov. George Deukmejian to spend the state surplus on education.

Lebowitz said that some observers considered the Santa Monica-Malibu goal of $50,000 too low and said that a well-run campaign could bring in as much as $300,000. For that reason, the Santa Monica-Malibu foundation hired a professional coordinator.

The foundation mailed out appeals to the parents of the 9,000 students in the district, urging them to "invest your rebate in the schools." Each mailing included a prepaid envelope for the rebate checks.

The campaign has cost $6,000, which was paid by corporate contributions.

Lebowitz said it is still too early to judge the success of the drive. "I suppose that quite a few checks will be flowing in the next few weeks, but time is wasting," he said.

In Beverly Hills, Molitz said that more than 220 checks have been received, many from people who had never before contributed to the district.

She said that use of volunteers has helped to hold down the cost of running the Beverly Hills campaign, estimated at $800. "I think that is a great budget," she added. "All in all, it has been really good."

The Culver City Education Foundation has received about $5,000 in contributions and foundation president Bob Steinberg said he was "tickled pink."

"I personally think that is about the maximum we could raise in this district," he said. "We are a different district (economically) than Beverly Hills."

Spokesmen for all three foundations said that they had focused on appeals to the parents of school-age children. The groups plan to broaden their appeal.

In the Los Angeles Unified School District, a request that parents of the district's 590,000 students send money to a trust account has netted 393 rebate checks totaling about $36,000. Los Angeles school officials also put notices in the pay envelopes of the district's 77,000 employees.

The state controller's office has also received about 300 checks despite attempts to discourage refund recipients from returning checks to the state.

The state received one check that was endorsed: "Pay to the order of the California school kids."

A spokesman for the state controller's office said a separate account was being set up to disperse the donations it has received to the schools.

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