MUS Foundation Kick-Off Dinner

By Sigrid Toye   |   November 15, 2018
(from left) MUSF president Thomas Jackman, Cate Stoll, MUS superintendent Anthony Ranii, and MUS vice principal Rusty Ito

An open garden gate and lively chatter from inside the house greeted me as I made my way across the lawn to the Montecito home of Cate and Matt Stoll. Hostess Cate welcomed me and we entered the garden, where overhead lanterns glittered and tables surrounded the pool for the evening’s 160 dinner guests. A special event was taking place that November 7 evening: the kick-off dinner for the newly formed Montecito Union School Foundation.

Montecito Union School District superintendent Anthony Ranii was in attendance, along with his staff, the Foundation’s board members, and a great number of enthusiastic parents. “This event is something very special and something for which are most grateful!” Ranii acknowledged. “The difficulties we faced as a result of the fire and debris flow,” he continued, “highlighted the need for advanced planning, coordination, and preparation. Fortunately our volunteer base, the PTA, and the fundraising arm of our school stepped right up and developed a plan that would provide MUS with sustained support for our continuing educational programs.”

The new Foundation was created to combine the forces of the PTA and the Montecito Education Foundation into a cohesive whole by merging the two boards. “In the past,” the new foundation’s president Thomas Jackman, began, “there had been two organizations supporting Montecito Union School: the PTA and the Montecito Educational Foundation, the school’s fundraising arm. Over the years, confusion existed  among the parent body as to which organization was responsible for what activity,” he explained.

Foundation vice president Cici McClintock spoke of the reason for moving forward with the idea of a new entity. “Both organizations had exactly the same goal,” she said, “which was to provide support for the school. After the disasters of December and January, we began to think about how to best support our school and to prepare for its future.”

Host Matt Stoll and former foundation board officer Jeff Horn
MUSF vice president Cici McClintock and MUSF president Thomas Jackman

During the final months of the 2017-18 school year and over the summer, members of both boards began to discuss the idea of a merger. “Serious planning took place,” Cici said, adding that “once the new school year was underway, and in a very short period of time, we joined forces to become the Montecito Union School Foundation.”

The evening’s event was held not only to introduce the new foundation but to launch its first annual campaign, chaired by Dana Zertuche in partnership with Dana Seltzer, vice president of programs. Their hope, their goal, is to enlist 100 percent of the school’s parents to participate in this year’s annual campaign, which will greatly enhance the school’s ability to supplement their own fundraising efforts.

Seltzer said that the annual appeal is only one arm of the foundation’s fundraising efforts this year. “Events that are planned in the coming year,” she explained, “include the annual Gala benefit, the Carnival, and the Jog-a-Thon.” In years past, more than $115,000 has been raised in support of specific programs such as the Strings and Band Program, Art at Lunch, the environmental Green Team programs, the library, and the Leadership Program. The newly minted foundation hopes through their efforts to raise  $300,000 to meet the school district’s requested needs.

An ambitious undertaking such as the formation of the Montecito Union School Foundation and its planned support programs for the year is certainly to be applauded.  Supported wholeheartedly by Superintendent Ranii, the Foundation, spearheaded – and possibly funded – by an enthusiastic group of committed parents and volunteers, is off to an excellent start.

Among the evening’s guests (many of whom had to assist me in understanding my new iPhone’s camera), was principal Dr. Nick Bruski, vice principal Rusty Ito, former Montecito Educational Foundation board member Jeff Horn, and the evening’s abundance of supporters, plus a child or two running about to remind us all of why we’re here and what this important community effort is all about in the first place.


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