By Dave Schwab
With the demise of the proposed Bird Rock Farmers Market, the question remains: What to do about raising funds to support Bird Rock Elementary?
“We plan to raise enough funds to keep our full teaching staff as well as our specialty program teachers: This means raising more funds than we ever have in the past,” said Lisa Bonebrake, Bird Rock parent representative to the La Jolla Cluster Association, noting the school’s largest annual fundraising event will be May 14 at Anthology downtown.
A group of parents has been working to get start a farmers market at La Jolla Methodist Church, but the idea was dropped last week after stiff opposition arose from the church's neighbors.
“Parents across San Diego Unified have understood for many years that if you want your student to have a well-rounded education that includes the arts, physical education and other opportunities — you have to help your school raise the funds to make this possible, especially if your school does not qualify for federal Title I funds or stimulus funds that can be used flexibly.”
Though the financial challenge is steep, Bonebrake said she believes the La Jolla public school community will rise to the occasion.
“We're fortunate that so many who live in our community who send their children to public school, volunteer their time and talents, pay attention to what's happening in our district and care about our dedicated teachers,” she said. “Since 1985, our school foundation has funded visual art, music, library services, physical education, and technology instruction at Bird Rock — all very important curricular areas that the district does not fund for our school.”
The notion of creating a neighborhood market serving Bird Rock was first raised a couple of years ago, but was not pursued when an appropriate location could not immediately be found. It surfaced again a few months ago when it seemed the Mira Monte plaza in front of the church would be a good spot.
Neighbors, though saying they supported the school, said they felt the church site off a busy street surrounded by a quiet residential neighborhood was the wrong spot for the planned Friday afternoon event.
The church's pastor, Rev. Walter Dilg. said they were willing to go along the plans and was willing to allow its electricity, water, restrooms, and parking lots to be used because the school fundraiser seemed like a good idea.
"We wanted to do what we thought we could do to help the neighborhood moms succeed in this effort, " Dilg e-mailed. "Later we learned that a number of the immediate neighbors around the church property were not as open to work with the disruption as we were and actually felt there were insurmountable impediments to the project being located at Mira Monte plaza."
Dilg said the church met with the neighbors and listened to their concerns.
"Upon reflection, we realized the goals of this project were not going to be attained at this location. We discussed our observations with the moms’ group and discovered they were reaching a similar conclusion. We subsequently learned they decided to abandon the project at that location."
Dilg added all of the parties involved are hopeful that alternative fund-raising efforts currently under way will be successful in meeting the school's needs.
Looking back on what went wrong with the drive to create an easily accessible neighborhood market, Darcy Ashley, former La Jolla Town Council president, said she felt market proponents weren’t forthright enough about their intentions.
“For me, the energy went of the room when they had not spoken to the neighbors immediately impacted,” she said. “That should have been one of the critical, initial steps. The organizers of the farmers market didn’t inspire a lot of trust.”
Ashley nonetheless credited market proponents with “trying mightily to do a good thing.”
Is the farmers market school fundraising notion in Bird Rock dead? Ashley doesn’t think so, pointing to the results of a survey done a few years ago asking residents what kind of businesses they’d like to see along La Jolla Boulevard.
“The number one thing was a grocery store,” she said. “The reality is people would like to have some fresh fruits and vegetables and would be supportive of a farmers market in Bird Rock. If there weren’t this underlying desire for food, the farmers market never would have found an audience.”
Ashley thinks it’s likely the market proposal will come back in altered form in the future.
“Someone else may try to do something again because it’s a really good idea, if you can find the right location,” she said.
To support the Bird Rock Elementary May 14 fundraising event, friends can visit
and click on "ONE:One Night, One School, Our future."