"It's a miracle," said the superintendent of the San Jose Unified School District of the fact that the school year will start on-time, one month after the arson fire that wiped out half of the school's classroom. The district worked quickly to get about 20 portable classrooms in place. One worker tells NBC Bay Area that he worked 80 hours last week alone.
But getting a classroom is only half the battle for teachers, the other half is replacing the supplies many of them collected over their careers, bought with money out of their own pockets. The California Teachers' Association estimates that teachers spend about $1,000 out-of-pocket on supplies and materials every year. This year most are starting from scratch, though with the help of the community.
Just last weekend, a woman who lives in the school's neighborhood, but doesn't have kids in the school district, organized a community garage sale at Lincoln High School to raise money for Trace Elementary. It's a lesson in commitment.
"This neighborhood is strong, there's a strong sense of commitment, there's a strong sense of goals and we're not done with Trace school," organizer Shelley Smith said of the effort that raised $5,000 specifically for teachers. She added, "We know there's going to be a need for more help along the way as they get back to building their school and overcoming this set-back."
Superintendent Matthews finds that community outpouring overwhelming. He says it's the thing that got him from "where to we begin" to school will start on time.
"It really says to this community, the students and their family, this community is committed without question to their education and committed to that they have a high quality education," said Dr. Matthews.
There is still time to help and to make donations that will be matched by a grant from the Silicon Valley Community Foundation. Many local businesses, like Hicklebee's Books in Willow Glen, are donating proceeds of sales to Trace elementary school. Organizations like RAFT or Resource Area for Teachers are giving funds directly to teachers. And, SCUDS posted donation information on their website. One more way? Call police if you know anything about the person who deliberately torched the school that is the heart of San Jose's Shasta Hanchett neighborhood in the Rose Garden.