After years of raising money to provide teachers with everything from encyclopedias to computer software, the Irvine Education Foundation will consider expanding fund-raising activities in anticipation of severe school district budget cuts.
The foundation's executive committee will meet Monday to discuss the Irvine Unified School District budget crisis and how the nonprofit organization can help.
Executive director Elizabeth Thomas said the foundation may begin a scholarship drive to help students pay for extracurricular programs that may only be offered on a fee basis next school year.
"That's something we've never done before," Thomas said.
With more than $105 million frozen in the county investment pool, the Irvine school district cut $795,000 from the current school year's budget this week. School board members say arts and sports programs may have to become self-supporting next school year to survive.
The foundation last year awarded $20,000 to Irvine teachers through its annual "mini-grant" competition. And the foundation has kept instrumental music programs alive at elementary schools by operating an instrument rental office that provides about 600 band instruments a year to students.
The foundation has raised another $20,000 for the mini-grant program this year, but the board will consider freezing the funds until the full extent of district losses are known, Thomas said. But she said she doubts that foundation money could have much effect on multimillion-dollar school district losses.
"Some of what we do is as simple as buying an encyclopedia set so kids have something dated later than 1978," she said. "If you put that money somewhere else in the district, it could easily get lost."