The Learning Curve is a weekly column that answers questions about schools using plain language. Have a question about how your local schools work? Write me at Mario.Koran@voiceofsandiego.org.
Schools in San Diego Unified are staring down a looming $124 million budget shortfall, wondering what cuts would have the least impact on their classrooms.
One principal wrote in a message to parents that all elementary schools with fewer than 1,000 students are set to lose their vice principals. She also advised parents to brace for reduced library hours and fewer staff members to monitor lunch and recess.
Since our story that included the principal’s missive, parents have written me asking what else will be cut. That question is up in the air. A San Diego Unified spokesperson said decisions for next year are still preliminary, but should be sorted out within two weeks.
This is where education tends to get personal. It’s easy to miss school board meetings or informational sessions. But even parents who otherwise don’t pay attention to education news get involved when their child’s favorite teacher or principal gets sent away.
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The usual phony panic. It happens every year: the state releases a ridiculously conservative budget estimate; the school districts are required by state law to give layoff notices far in advance of the actual budget legislation; much gnashing of teeth about the major hit "our kids" education will take; local officials take potshot at Prop 13; state legislators pass sane education budget, then local and state officials ask for extra campaign contributions for just doing the job they were elected to do; teacher unions take the bait and wheel over the cash in bushel baskets. Rinse, repeat.
Thanks so much for posting this important story. One of the most sickening aspects of this is the shuffling and cutting of special education staff members -- more than anyone, special needs kids require consistency and support from the people they've built relationships with. They really don't handle change well. And having IEP kids operating at their highest and best benefits the whole school, not just the individual kids.
The suggestions in this article about how to make sure your voice is heard, are good. Mario makes a good distinction between budget items that principals have control of, and those areas which are determined by the district. At smaller schools, there is not a lot of wiggle room for principals. It is so important to speak up at board meetings and to set up meetings which include your elected board representatives and parents who are involved school leaders.. Invite your board member to PTA and foundation meetings. There is power in numbers.
I noted in a post before that AB 1469 requires an ever increasing District contribution from the General Fund to make up for the underfunded liability of the CalStrs retirement fund. Money now directly taken out of kids programs through no fault of their own or past budgets but directly related to the management (or lack thereof) of this HUGE fund and unrealistic rates of return.
Has the District taken into consideration in their strategic plan: https://calpensions.com/category/calstrs/ and how this will effect ADDITIONAL General Fund money to come out of the budget?
Oh yea - what strategic plan.......
We need real change!! Here is your chance to do something simple that will change California schools from being 47th-49th in the U.S.A
"A story this week in the New York Times points out that nearly 60 percent of community college students wind up in remedial math. When researchers looked at data, they found that students are more likely to graduate college if they avoid remedial math and jump right to college-level classes."
Students requiring remedial math can be far behind. They have taken high school math classes, learned very little or nothing, and yet have been passed to the next grade and next math class. They are not ready for the accountability of proving competency. They have been set up to fail.
Supposedly, Cindy says 80 of the 124 million in cuts will come from the central office. We'll see if that happens. Resource teachers are also getting axed in addition to the positions Mario named.
People act like they care, they act like they want to do something....but when it comes to actually doing something these 'concerned parents' could really care less. We tried http://www.yesforeducation.org/ getting people to sign up, to volunteer to reverse the government from stealing from our kids education...but these 'concerned parents' put their heads in the sand and told me to my face 'I'll think about it'...which was really their way of blowing it off. Now that it's getting press AGAIN they are 'acting' concerned. Either you love your kids and you care or you don't. I'm VERY convinced that most parents care until they have to get involved to make a change.
I was one of 5 people at the best schools in San Diego, attending PTA meetings, school dances trying to educate parents and being brushed off by the heads of the PTA and these 'concerned parents'....amazing and disappointing. Our initiative died with the aloof attitudes of the 'concerned parents' who are up in arms today....too little too late people.