There are a lot of reasons to buy a house in Lamorinda. We’ve got beautiful weather, tons of open space, more than our fair share of regional parks, lively downtowns, great restaurants and engaged communities, but ask people why they chose to move to here, and chances are they’ll tell you it was for the schools.
How the Districts Are Divided
Unlike in many other areas of the state, Lamorinda schools are split into four different districts: Orinda Union School District, Lafayette School District, Moraga School District, and the Acalanes Union High School District, each with its own school board and budget.
The Orinda, Lafayette and Moraga districts are made up of the elementary and middle schools within each city’s boundaries, while Acalanes Union consists of the three high schools of Lamorinda:
Campolindo (Moraga), Acalanes (Lafayette), Miramonte (Orinda) as well as Las Lomas High School located in Walnut Creek. Due to years of dwindling budgets and most recently to the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF), put in place by the California Department of Education, all of our local schools are underfunded.
Keeping Our Schools on Top
With state and federal funding nowhere near the levels required to educate students, how do our school districts manage to remain among the top-ranked in California?
In addition to the occasional bond measure to fund infrastructure and parcel tax measures to help bridge the gap, three local education foundations: Lafayette Partners in Education (LPIE), Moraga Education Foundation (MEF), and the Education Foundation of Orinda (EFO) are what make the difference between an educational experience that is merely satisfactory and one that is truly exceptional.
Parents in each district are asked to contribute to their local foundation on a per child basis in order to keep our schools performing at the highest levels.
Lafayette Partners in Education
Established in 1980 as the Lafayette Arts and Science Foundation (LASF) by a group of parents concerned about the cutbacks to art and music, LPIE supports the Burton Valley, Happy Valley, Lafayette and Springhill Elementary schools as well as Stanley Middle School and Acalanes High School.
As the funding gap has grown, so has LPIE, which in 2019 will raise over 4 million dollars from parents and community and local businesses to pay for programs in all curriculum areas, including English, math, computer science, foreign language, art and music as well as librarians at the elementary and middle schools and staff development at all sites. Recent investments in wellness and counseling at Acalanes High School have provided students with crucial mental health services on campus.
Without LPIE, Acalanes High School would be unable to offer students a well-rounded 7-period day, complete with a wide range of elective options. With a full-time Executive Director, small staffed office, classroom instructors and a raft of volunteers, LPIE makes a massive impact on the quality and variety of each child’s education.
Moraga Education Foundation
Bridging the funding gap in Moraga for over 35 years, Moraga Education Foundation’s 2019 budget provides over million dollars to the town’s Camino Pablo, Los Perales and Donald Rheem elementary schools, more than $600,000 to Joaquin Moraga Intermediate and $800,000 to Campolindo High School.
Donations to the organization or its endowment make possible support not only for the core curriculum, but also for art, music, engineering and a wide range of electives. MEF allows Moraga elementary schools to retain PE instructors, science and teacher aides, librarians and to run math acceleration/intervention programs.
Additionally, the foundation invests in counseling and student support at the elementary, middle and high school levels and funds the recently opened wellness center at Campolindo.
Fundraising efforts for the organization include parent, community and business support as well as an annual gala event each spring to meet each fiscal year’s budget. Moraga’s award-winning schools are a testament to the power of their foundation’s efforts.
Education Foundation of Orinda
EFO will raise and spend $1.7 million dollars for and in the city’s schools in 2019, funding salaries for art, choral and instrumental music instructors and librarians at the four elementary schools.
In conjunction with the parent organizations at each site, dollars from the Education Foundation of Orinda allow the district maintain smaller class sizes in grades T-K through 3 at Del Rey, Glorietta, Sleepy Hollow and Wagner Ranch elementary schools and allow Miramonte to offer a full 7 period day to students, ensuring a wide variety of elective options to better prepare kids for college and beyond.
Thanks to EFO, students at Orinda Intermediate School are able to choose from a wide range of electives, including debate, chorus, computer graphics, woodshop, web design and many more. Miramonte High School benefits from funding for a multitude of subject areas including architecture, computer science, public speaking, drama and photography.
Donations to EFO and the work of its dedicated volunteers ensure that all Orinda students are offered the highest quality curriculum from Transitional Kindergarten through 12th grade.
Committed to Making the Grade
These non-profit organizations show our community’s commitment to the value of a well-rounded education and ensure that Lamorinda schools have the resources they need to consistently rank among the top in the state.
By providing technology, additional instructors, funding for programs and staff development, each local foundation builds a bridge across a large gap and enriches each child’s educational experience in ways that cannot always be measured.
The Value of High Performing Schools
Research has shown a direct correlation between the quality of schools and home prices. Whether your children are currently enrolled in the district or not, a contribution to one of the three education foundations is an investment in maintaining property values for yourself and your family while also preserving a culture of academic excellence in all of Lamorinda’s districts.
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