City approves terms of matching grant that will provide up to $875,200 for IUSD schools

The City of Irvine will generously provide up to $875,200 in matching funds to help IUSD ease the impacts of larger class sizes next year. On Tuesday night, the Irvine City Council approved the terms of its Challenge Match Grant, which will contribute a dollar for every dollar donated to IUSD through the Irvine Public Schools Foundation. If IPSF can leverage the full amount of $875,200, schools in Irvine Unified will receive more than $1.75 million for class-size support.

“This pledge represents a tremendous investment in our schools and our students, ensuring quality instruction will continue in the face of this crippling state budget crisis,” said IUSD Superintendent Gwen Gross. “Words are insufficient to express our gratitude toward the City of Irvine and the Irvine Public Schools Foundation. We are so fortunate to have the support of these extraordinary partners, particularly during these challenging economic times.” With the state budget crisis resulting in increased class sizes and furlough days, city leaders in April approved a recommendation to provide one-time funding of up to $1 million for the Irvine Unified School District and the Tustin Unified School District, which has four schools in Irvine. Under the terms of the grant, organizations working on behalf of both districts must raise money to trigger the matches. But the Irvine Public Schools Foundation can commit funds from this year’s “Five Week Campaign,” which netted more than $500,000 for 2010-11. That leaves a balance of $375,200. "IPSF is proud to have the opportunity to support our students," said IPSF CEO Neda Zaengle, "and we are thankful for the thousands of donors who partner with us to support our schools. Our deepest gratitude goes to the entire City Council for this amazing gift." While raising the full match won’t be easy, it’s not unprecedented. In 2008, the Irvine City Council approved a similar matching grant of nearly $900,000, and IPSF’s fundraising doubled the contribution. As a result, fourth- through sixth-grade classes that had increased following a drop in state revenue benefited from additional support, including instructional aides, while middle and high schools added teaching hours. Dr. Gross envisions the latest contribution having a similar impact. "This is one more example of our incredible partnership with the City of Irvine, which cares deeply about our families and the success of our students," she said.