Our meeting on Friday was all about education and students. Besides our usual cast of visiting Rotarians from snow bound locales, we were pleased to welcome three of our new Interact Club officers. Attending were Tyler Watson, President, Gabrielle Robles, Vice President, and Whitney Denewiler, Secretary. Unable to attend was the club Treasurer, Tyler Henry. We were also pleased to welcome and meet our "shared" exchange student from New Zealand, Lisa Guy. Lisa will be our speaker at our February 19th meeting.

Don Adolph made us aware of the effort underway by the State to recover Redevelopment Transportation funds from cities around the State to help relieve the State's budget deficit. Don asked members to consider signing a petition that would put a measure on the November ballot that would prevent the State from taking these funds in the future. Don also pointed out that the City of La Quinta is in good financial shape, the States efforts notwithstanding.

Andy Brakebill gave a short update on the progress of ticket sales. We are at about 10% of our sales goal. Just a reminder to members - call the businesses that you have recruited for Tee signs from our past golf tournaments. Tell then that the fund raiser has changed, but the goal of scholarships for local high schools is the same. I used that approach and, so far, have sold 70 tickets to those companies. We all need to get out there and do our part to sell these tickets. Remind people that if they buy two, they double their chances of winning.

Doug Motz announced that our next club social is Tuesday, February 9th, at Ernie's at PGA West from 5-7 p.m. Come on out and enjoy some Rotary fellowship. Walter Keating was a $5.00 drawing winner. President Frank exchange club flags with representatives of the Rotary Club of Calgary South, who were enjoying our liquid sunshine.

Bruce Cathcart did an outstanding job as our Sergeant at Arms. After very spirited bidding, Bruce Franklin secured the Fine Free Badge for the month. With Valentine's Day just around the cornier, Bruce asked Corry to pick a female member to give him $5.00 worth of advice on what to do for his girl friend. Corry picked Jan Brakebill and she suggested that Corry should plan something that his girl friend would like to do. Bruce then asked Nora Coleman to pick a male member to offer her $5.00 worth of advice. Walter said the same thing Jan did. Palmer offered that Nora should get a nice card for her husband. Bruce suggested that she give him something to look forward to doing. Doug injected the thought, "Happy wife, happy life". With that, Happy Dollars came from Sam, Frank, Nora, Andy, Helen, Rey, Ben, Mark and Judith. I would have to say we hit a "happy" high.

Our day of education continued as our speaker, Desert Sands Unified School District Superintendent, Dr. Sharon McGehee, provided us with an overview of our local school district, its achievements and its challenges. This is the largest school district in the Coachella Valley, serving over 30,000 students and employing over 2,500 people. The District includes twenty elementary schools, seven middle schools and seven high schools. Of these, sixteen are performing at the "exemplary" level and fifteen are designated as "California Distinguished Schools". The District has an aggressive and funded construction program. The administrative personnel to student ratio is 6.8%. This is the lowest in the Valley.

The District faces significant challenges as a result of our weak State economy. State funding for the District is $1,367 per student below its funding entitlement. Currently, the State has not cut education funding as severely as other services. However, the District will be working hard to maintain control of expenses and avoid insolvency. The District has already instituted an across the board pay cut and will be looking for other labor concessions to help meet this funding shortfall. Unfortunately, this funding crisis will persist for the next several years and some serious thinking must go into how we can continue to provide a quality education for our young people. This is an issue about which we must all remain informed. It makes the work by our Rotary Club that much more important to our local schools.