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Infighting Tearing Up Alameda Education Foundation

Sources are telling us that infighting among the officials at the Alameda Education Foundation (AEF) is threatening the existence of the organization. Officials are considering the dissolution of AEF if they can’t resolve the current money squabbles.

The financial troubles seem to revolve around AEF Executive Director Brooke Briggance’s reported annual $60,000 salary, and the non-profit’s inability to raise $20,000 to pay for an external audit of their books. The audit is required to allow them to seek larger grants and donations. According to their I.R.S. filings, AEF raised $102,834 in direct contributions in 2006, down from $152,508 in 2005. (Reports for 2006 are the latest available.) For 2006, AEF’s total budget was $370,049, so Ms. Briggance’s $60,000 salary represents 17% of the budget, or 59% of total direct contributions for the year. Ms. Briggance’s salary plus the $20,000 for an audit would consume 80% of one year’s contributions to the organization. Ms. Briggance joined AEF in September of 2007.

Sources tell us that AEF was created to get Alameda’s local business community supporting our schools, but then began competing with the PTAs for funding from the parent community. One reader wrote “I think that the AEF program has been misleading and misguided in recent years – and ultimately not doing what it was intended to do.” Earlier this year, we spoke with and heard from several parents across Alameda who felt that AEF wasn’t transparent in their use of the funds raised, and that they didn’t equitably distribute program funds across all schools in the district. (At that time, we found a high concentration of Otis, Edison and Franklin school parents among the officials at AEF.)

If AEF was created to get support from the business community, they have indeed strayed off the path, as Measure H, the school funding parcel tax that passed in June of this year, has angered much of the local small-business community and generated two lawsuits against the school district. According to Ian Merrifield, a local musician, Encinal High School graduate and son of Brooke Briggance, his mother was instrumental in crafting the language of Measure H. Mr. Merrifield wrote a comment about Measure H earlier this year on a local blog:

Oh, and one very final comment to Dave Kirwin.

I can’t give you every name of the people who worked on the parcel tax language. But I can tell you that one of the people who was very instrumental in writing it was my mother, Brooke Briggance, Executive Director of the Alameda Education Foundation.

Comment by Ian Merrifield — March 11, 2008 @ 10:29 pm

AUSD Board Trustee David Forbes has also praised school board candidate Ronald Mooney for his contribution to Measure H and previous school parcel taxes. In addition, it has been reported to us and written about publicly by Alameda parents that Franklin School parents Genet Garamendi and Becca Rosati were also instrumental in crafting the Measure H language.

Genet Garamendi is the daughter of California Lt. Governor John Garamendi, and Becca Rosati – her full-name is Rebecca Rosati-Perata – is the daughter of California State Senate President Don Perata. She was also listed on their website as a contact for K.A.S.E. a local Political Action Committee that pushed for the passage of Measure H. Ronald Mooney has held various positions within AEF, including President and Secretary, as well as Board Member, and was the Secretary for K.A.S.E.

As we hear more about the future of AEF, we’ll report it. But for now, we suggest you send your dollars into your local PTA rather than AEF.

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