Frequently Asked Questions

Thank you for taking the time to learn more about DMSEF, STEAM+ and our fundraising efforts. If you do not see your question below, or would like any further information, please feel free to reach out to our DMSEF office at [email protected] or to your school’s DMSEF representative.

How does DMUSD contribute to the cost of the STEAM+ program?

STEAM+ is funded in part by DMUSD and in part by DMSEF.  Historically, the goal has been for DMSEF to fund 40% of the STEAM+ program and 60% of STEAM+ funding to come from DMUSD.  As costs have risen, the ask from parents has remained at $800 per student, resulting in a gap between the goal of 40% and the amount raised by DMSEF. With the passage of California Proposition 28 (art and music), additional funding will be provided to DMUSD each year. The Prop 28 funding, will help close the gap from DMSEF and get closer to funding the 40% of the total program cost for STEAM+. DMUSD will continue to contribute the remaining 60% to create a robust STEAM+ program for all students.

What is our district goal and how is it determined?

Our goal is to raise $1.4 million to help fund STEAM+ teachers in the Del Mar Union School District (DMUSD). With your help this year, we can reach our goal and help cover the 40% shortfall from state and local funding to support the salaries for STEAM+ credentialed teachers at all of our schools.

How do school goals work?

Each school’s goal is based on their school’s enrollment as of September 1st
Ashley Falls
Carmel Del Mar
Del Mar Heights
Del Mar Hills
Ocean Air
Pacific Sky
Sage Canyon
Sycamore Ridge
Torrey Hills

Where do DMSEF funds go?

All parent contributions given to DMSEF are restricted monies and can only be used by DMUSD for the compensation packages of STEAM+ specialists. On average, less than 10% of contributions are used for operating expenses; far lower than the 25% national average expenses for non-profit organizations (More Than Giving Company).  The DMSEF Board is committed to keeping expenses low and we help by volunteering our time and expertise. That means at least 90% of contributions go directly to funding an extraordinary STEAM+ program in our district.

We are pleased to have earned the GuideStar Platinum Seal of Transparency in 2023 and 2022, and the Gold Seal of Transparency in 2020 and 2021. This places DMSEF in the top .01% of nonprofits who provide information about their work. This seal reflects our commitment to share our story, tell our community how we operate, and how we plan to use the funds that are raised. For more information about where DMSEF funds go, please visit our Financial Reports and and DMSEF/DMUSD contributions report.

What are STEAM+ credentialed specialists and why are they important?

DMUSD hires only STEAM+ credentialed specialists for instruction in our schools. This means that your student will have all STEAM+ instruction from a certificated teacher in their area of expertise. These teachers are both subject matter experts and experienced educators who bring their passion for their discipline to their classrooms. Following state-mandated standards for their subjects, these specialists tailor their classes to each grade and collaborate with classroom teachers to enhance the core curriculum by facilitating rich authentic learning experiences that prepare students for the future. They support our district’s mission to educate the “whole” child by providing students with opportunities for hands-on activities, problem-solving, teamwork, and exposure to the arts and sciences in support of what is possible in the general education classroom.

Does DMUSD contribute to the compensation packages of STEAM+ specialists?

Yes, the goal is for DMUSD to financially support approximately 60% of STEAM+ specialists’ compensation packages, with the remaining 40% funded by DMSEF through its parent, community partner and corporate contributions.

Providing for STEAM+ teachers also allows DMUSD to cover a limited amount of contractual planning time for grade-level classroom teachers when students attend STEAM+ classes. This planning time gives grade-level teams the opportunity to engage in meaningful dialogue about student needs, analysis of student work, and planning of future lessons and units of study. Click here to see DMSEF and DMUSD funding for STEAM+ in prior years.

What are the STEAM+ subject areas?

The DMUSD STEAM+ program provides hands-on and engaging instruction for students in Science, Innovation & Technology, Art, Music, Physical Education, Spanish, and more.

What is the difference between Enrichment and STEAM+?

Enrichment provides optional classes offered as part of the DMUSD After School Program. DMUSD contracts with outside vendors and organizations to provide instruction for enrichment classes. Parents pay an additional fee for each class they are interested in having their child attend. Learn more at

STEAM+ classes are taught by credentialed specialists and STEAM+ instruction is provided during the regular school day at all DMUSD schools. Every student, including your child, receives STEAM+ instruction (K-6 grade). No child is excluded from these programs. However, without sufficient funding to pay for STEAM+ specialists, this extraordinary program would not be possible.

Can parents help decide what STEAM+ subject areas are taught? Can we get different classes in our schools, like Robotics?

District staff and principals regularly seek input regarding learning opportunities offered at each school site. Over the years, different subjects have been available in addition to the core specialty content areas of Science, Innovation & Technology, Art, Physical Education, Spanish, and more. In some cases, the availability of highly qualified instructional staff has impacted the offerings of core specialty content areas. Due to funding and the allocation of STEAM+ specialists (specialists are often assigned to more than one site to create a full-time position), focusing on the identified core content specialty areas helps to ensure highly qualified specialists are available and interested in working in DMUSD because DMUSD is able to offer full time employment. Programs such as robotics are often above and beyond what is expected of content-area specialists and heavily reliant on volunteers to support this type of program.

How are Engineering and Technology covered in the STEAM+ curriculum?

While the “E” in STEAM+ does generally stand for engineering and the “T” generally stands for technology, each letter in DMUSD’s STEAM+ program does not represent a specific specialist. Instead, DMUSD’s STEAM+ program is about interdisciplinary learning. Current funding supports five core specialty content areas: art, music, science, physical education, and Spanish. In most of these specialty content areas, students learn overlapping concepts inclusive of mathematics, engineering, and technology. For example, music, mathematics, and technology intersect when students learn about music and create original compositions. Science standards are inclusive of engineering and mathematics concepts and standards. Art, technology, and engineering are the foundation for taking an idea from concept to design, something our students work on during their STEAM+ classes.

If DMSEF raises enough money, will we continue to have the same STEAM+ specialists next year?

The more money we raise, the stronger our STEAM+ program can be. There are many factors affecting whether STEAM+ specialists will be assigned to the same school the following year. STEAM+ specialists are employees of DMUSD and assignment of STEAM+ specialists to a school is managed by DMUSD.

How can I find out what my child does in STEAM+?

STEAM+ instruction at each school varies by grade and is tied to state and grade-based curriculum standards for each subject. Each school has their own process for sharing what your child learns in STEAM+, including teacher emails, art displays, performances, school websites, etc. We encourage you to talk to your principal, STEAM+ specialists or DMSEF Directors at your school to learn more about your child’s STEAM+ program.

Why give the recommended $800/student for STEAM+?

The recommended amount of $800 per student for STEAM+ (science, technology, art, music, Spanish, and Physical Education) teachers is based on historical giving to reach $1.4 million to adequately supporting these educators. The STEAM+ teachers provide enhanced, experiential, with hands-on learning opportunities by facilitating innovative teaching methods. STEAM+ subjects often require innovative teaching approaches that go beyond traditional classroom instruction. The recommended funding allows STEAM+ teachers to provide the latest teaching methods and are able to integrate them into their classrooms effectively. By staying updated on emerging technologies and educational practices, STEAM+ teachers can provide engaging and dynamic learning experiences for their students.

The DMUSD STEAM+ program helps attract and retain highly qualified educators in STEAM+ disciplines, as the extra funding acknowledges the specialized skills and expertise they bring to the classroom. This, in turn, ensures the continuity and stability of STEAM+ programs within our schools and district. The recommended $800 per student for STEAM+ teachers reflects a commitment to providing comprehensive, engaging, and hands-on STEAM+ education. By adequately funding these teachers, we invest in the future workforce, promote innovation, and prepare students for the challenges and opportunities of a rapidly evolving world.

I contributed! How else can I help?

The DMSEF Board is made up of parents from every school in the district who volunteer time to ensure the highest quality education for our children. The DMSEF Board generally has two representatives from each school in the district. We have openings at some schools to become DMSEF Directors and we welcome new board members and volunteers. We encourage parents to reach out to learn more or contact us at [email protected].

Updated on October 6, 2023