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Frederiksen Elementary School Fundraising Delivers Wish List Marquee

November 28, 2017

DUBLIN, CA–On the Thursday prior to the Thanksgiving break, a group of hearty souls gathered in the Frederiksen Elementary School parking lot. Why would these parents and students gather together at 4:30 PM with rain beginning to fall? To understand this scene requires some context.

As one of the oldest schools in Dublin, Frederiksen is a stalwart site in the Dublin Unified School District. As Frederiksen approaches its 40th anniversary, it greatly benefitted from the passage of Measures C and E in previous years. The basic elements of HVAC and roofing issues needed to be addressed. In addition, as enrollment continued to increase, the construction of a new kindergarten classroom section was essential to provide an adequate teaching environment for its youngest students.

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New Marquee Ribbon-Cutting

All along, family leaders and members of the Parent Faculty Club (PFC) had dreams of someday upgrading the long existing message board into an electronic marquee that would be equivalent to many of the newer schools throughout the District. In fact, the “dream” began about 20 years ago. However, the drive to complete more significant projects can often be impacted by various other needs that require more immediate attention. Of course, the objective is to maintain the relevance of commonly accepted goals – as families continue to matriculate through the site every three to six years. Priorities can change.

In order to gain perspective, OneDublin.org engaged with the recent past-President of the Fred PFC, Jennifer Symes. Jen is an active volunteer and is the mother to a 4th grader (Ruby) and a 6th grader (Cooper) at Wells Middle School. When we broached the subject of someday funding and installing the marquee, she shared some interesting concepts. As described, the line item had existed on the rolling PFC budget for several years. But, the ultimate barrier to completion would be two-fold. For one, the estimated total cost for the project might land somewhere between $20-30K. Secondly, ongoing fundraising priorities were consistently focused on teachers first and then student activities. At the same time, the PFC leadership universally agreed that one of their greatest roles was to provide communications to the entire school community. They felt united in the belief that a dynamic marquee would help to serve this purpose.

So, much of the path had been established towards the ultimate vision. Previous administrations had identified the mutually agreed upon goal. And, legacy fundraising efforts had been devoted to by past Panther families. Yet, this mission required a final push to help it come to fruition. It needed the final capital dollars and a logistical solution that would remove any further delay to this vision.

Ms. Symes shared that her fellow PFC board members, Damon Borelli and Derek Small had invested a great deal of time investigating a vendor/partner that could provide an adequate solution – within a reasonable budget. As an older school site, one of the potential challenges would be to pull electrical lines to the front of the school in order to power the device. Earlier bids/estimates suggested that it would be necessary to dig up portions of the parking lot and ingress/egress. This would have potentially added thousands of dollars to this project.

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Old and New

At a crucial moment a few years ago, the site was introduced to Boosterthon as a fundraising vehicle. In the current fundraising era, many schools are partnering with 3rd-party organizations to accelerate the effectiveness of their efforts. Frederiksen decided to employ Boosterthon and earmark their services to spotlight their annual Panther Prowl – or walk-a-thon – while raising an emphasis on the marquee project. In sum, the partnership was a raging success in both supporting this specific item, but it helped to fund other programs, as well.

We had previously mentioned the issue of overcoming logistics. The leadership at Fred approached the District and then ultimately engaged with Russ Brooking, a Project Manager within DUSD. Russ possessed much empathy for this endeavor and pledged to find a manageable solution. His result was to trench a line through grass to an adjacent classroom structure which made this not only more feasible, but also made it much more cost effective. Ultimately, Russ volunteered to work directly with the sign vendor and the project was completed under the specified budget.

OneDublin.org reached out to Jennifer Symes for her specific feedback on helping to complete this legacy project at Frederiksen Elementary School.

OneDublin.org: Clearly, Fred looks today as a very different school versus over a decade ago. What does this new marquee represent to the entire school community?

Jennifer Symes: “I feel like the new sign accomplishes a couple things: First, it modernizes the school – bringing in technology to one of the oldest schools in the district. Second, it also will (hopefully) improve communication and awareness of events which has truly eluded us. Now the school can communicate events, dates, and other important information in a very visible way. It will be very hard for anyone to say “I had no idea’ with the bright sign right in front. It’s also another vehicle for fundraising that’s more passive (e.g., charging for birthday messages, or even sponsorship/ads, should the current PFC/school admin decide).”

OneDublin.org: What changes/improvements have you seen in fundraising efforts during your tenure at Frederiksen?

Symes: “Boosterthon was a game-changer for us. We were absolutely STUNNED with the amount of funds raised during that event. Parents were burned out with all the different ‘asks’ throughout the year (e.g., wrapping paper). Our approach was that we would have only three fund raising events: back to school donations to PFC, a spell-a-thon, and a fun run (Boosterthon). I think parents were happier not being constantly asked for money throughout the year. I also felt strongly about keeping the community updated on our fundraising efforts. We had a thermometer posted in the lobby that was updated and I sent out regular newsletters that updated the community on where we were. I wanted to be transparent about how much we raised and why we were raising it. I have heard that there are new fundraising rules going into effect and I am concerned about the how that will impact schools. Without something like Boosterthon, there’s no way we could have made such a large improvement.”

OneDublin.org: Anything else that you would like to add?

Symes: “I would just add that I realize some parents may not feel like they had a say when it came to deciding on the marquee. This project was voted on so long ago, that I think people were not aware that it was in fact chosen by parents at the time. I am excited to see what next ‘capital improvement’ may come – perhaps a track like Dublin Elementary School?”

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OneDublin.org would like to recognize the scores of Frederiksen families that have actively contributed over the years to the completion of this marquee project. For many, it is a reminder of what the school represented to them in the past and also as a bright signal to where the school is heading. Go Panthers!

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