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A Light at the End of San Ysidro School District’s Tunnel

An agreement struck between the district and the California Teachers Association offers San Ysidro the opportunity to reset the clock.

Rarely in politics do we see situations that are truly “win-win.” But from the ashes of an ugly teachers strike in the San Ysidro School District earlier this month came an agreement, a promise for a better future for the district, its teachers and, most importantly, its students.

Commentary - in-story logoSan Ysidro’s school district has had to deal publicly with ill-advised actions by former administrators, a horrendous lawsuit over solar panels that were never installed, a financial crisis, a complete change of its governing board and the resulting contentious contract negotiation with its teachers.

The members of the governing board leading the district through these seemingly insurmountable obstacles might be inexperienced, but they’re also proud and determined. The contract agreement I forged with a negotiator from the California Teachers Association was a significant first step to the district’s Promised Land, leading us away from the threat of state takeover.

You might’ve read about the agreement’s outlined 2 percent raise for teachers. San Ysidro has outstanding teachers who led the district to the “800 bar” under California State Testing – a feat unmatched by any other California district sharing San Ysidro’s demographics. This was a well-deserved raise for our teachers, and one funded through alternative sources, not general funds.

Also in the agreement was a provision to increase instruction for San Ysidro’s kindergarten students to full-day class. Call that a win for the community; we are proud to have negotiated this needed benefit for our youngest students.

Meanwhile, the district saw its own win and a great step toward righting its financial ship with a 4.5 percent reduction to general fund expenditures. The district will still need to make some further cuts, but this addressed the lion’s share of its tough decisions.

All told, this agreement offers San Ysidro the opportunity to reset the clock.

Gone is the administrator whose acts brought much of the district’s turmoil, and gone are the board members whom teachers blamed for past bad decisions. With negotiations settled, the district will now embark on selecting a long-term superintendent.

San Ysidro still has a ways to go before becoming a national model. But this agreement has launched the district in the right direction. At least now, the light at the end of the tunnel is our children’s future and not the train.

Jason Wells is president of the governing board for San Ysidro School District and executive director of the San Ysidro Chamber of Commerce. Wells’ commentary has been edited for style and clarity. See anything in there we should fact check? Tell us what to check out here.

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