Last fall, the Coast Unified School District announced a $20,000 donation that would make it possible for all district graduates to obtain a second year of free enrollment at Cuesta College through 2018.
But the district doesn’t want to stop there.
Coast Union High School counselor Cheryl Seay and retired San Luis Obispo County Superintendent Julian Crocker, a Cambria resident, presented a vision at the Thursday, Oct. 13, school board meeting for an expanded and continuing scholarship program.
Currently, the Cuesta Promise — funded by an $8.5 million bequest from Charles and Leeta Dovica — covers the first year of college for every high school graduate in San Luis Obispo County. The Cambria Promise piggybacks on that, adding the second year for Coast Union and Leffingwell high school grads.
The expanded Cambria Promise described by Crocker and Seay would “provide the ‘last dollar’ funding to cover the costs for tuition, fees and books for the first academic year at any accredited university or trade/vocational school to which a student is accepted.”
Those costs could vary widely. Crocker and Seay estimated they’d be about $3,800 for a community college, $8,200 for a California State University school (such as Cal Poly) and $15,000 for a University of California school.
Last-dollar funding means the program would provide “whatever is needed to close the gap” after other scholarships had been accounted for, Crocker said.
He described the plan as a “place-based initiative, as opposed to a need-based initiative.” Financial need wouldn’t enter into the equation; students would qualify solely on the basis of having graduated from a Coast Unified school.
“We’re talking about the middle class, and to me, that’s the true need,” Seay told the board. “Those families don’t get a lot of federal dollars.”
Crocker estimated the program would cost $137,600 a year, and Seay said she had begun contacting scholarship donors, asking them to set aside “a percentage of the money they donate and put it in the pot,” rather than dedicating it entirely to specific students.
Seay acknowledged that some donors like to retain control of how they allocate their funds.
Crocker said he had held preliminary conversations with the Cuesta Foundation about managing the program but had received no commitment. He said that “at some point, there obviously has to be paid staff” to manage the fund and its distribution, suggesting that the district form an advisory council as a first step in this direction.
In other business:
▪ Director of Technology Henry Danielson reported that 2.3 percent of families in outlying ranches and 11 percent of San Simeon families do not have access to the internet for students who might need to do some online work at home.
He cited “limited connectivity because there is no cell tower there.”
Among the options he said were available to families is a low-cost internet deal through AT&T for $10 a month and the ability of students to take math textbooks home with them if their families have no access to the internet.
▪ Santa Lucia Middle School librarian Suzanne Kennedy, speaking for the Cambria Education Foundation, announced a fall fundraiser: selling trees, wreaths and garlands to raise money for the district’s students and teachers.
The foundation will sell Douglas firs, noble firs and grand firs, in addition to wreaths, garlands and evergreen swag. Order forms are available at school libraries or the Cambria Chamber of Commerce, 767 Main St., and must be returned by Nov. 11.
Items will be available for pickup from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Dec. 3 at the middle school parking lot, 2850 Schoolhouse Lane.
Oct. 21 — Coast Union alumni volleyball game, 5 p.m.
Oct. 24-28 — Homecoming week at Coast Union High School.
Oct. 28 — Homecoming Parade, 2:30 p.m.; Football Senior Night, 7 p.m.; Homecoming Dance, 9 p.m. End of first quarter.
Oct. 31 — Halloween Parade, 1:15 to 2:15 p.m.
Nov. 2 — Local Control Accountability Plan Community Engagement Meeting, 2:15 p.m., district board room, 1350 Main St.
Nov. 3 — Coast Union Student Showcase, 6 p.m. in library; barbecue at 5:30 p.m.
Nov. 11 — No school