When our home budgets are reduced by events out of our control such as mortgage rate increases, additional taxes, or a reduction in hours of employment, we all cut back. We make fewer trips to the movies. We eat fewer dinners out. We put off buying that new car. When a school district’s budget is cut, you lay off teachers and aides, cut back programs for your gifted and talented children, eliminate transportation for middle and high school students and you spend $12-15 million on a new sports complex. Something doesn’t sound right.
I agree that Beaumont needs a new football stadium but do we need to spend $12 million? Two years ago, Redlands High School spent $2.1 million for their new stadium. A very respectable stadium that hosted 7,000 fans at last week's football game. I understand that Measure Z funds are required to be spent on school facilities and technology; and that the law dictates those funds can’t be included in the general fund. The $4 million dollars the district is about to receive from the sale of the district office can be added to the general fund as long as it is to be used for one-time expenses. Because of a change in the education code originally adopted to help out Beaumont Unified School District, you have been given another chance to show us that your focus is our kids.
Every one of you told us last year how difficult it was for you to eliminate class size reduction for kindergarten and third grade. Each of you said it was very difficult to cut transportation for our middle school and high school students. And you all agonized over pink slipping teachers, bus drivers, and aides. However, I don’t see any of you agonizing now over spending $12 million dollars for a new sports complex.
All I am asking is that you involve parents and teachers in the planning process as you did last year when you held public forums to assist you in your difficult budget cutting decisions. Since I'm not sure you will open up this process for public input, I’d like to offer you my input now.
- Budget $8 million dollars for the football stadium. You can expand the sports complex with future bond sales. I am sure it will still be the nicest stadium in the area.
- You can then move the $4 million from the stadium budget to build your district office building.
- The 21st Century classroom is a nice concept but I've learned from many teachers that they feel it would be more valuable to have a technology work station in every classroom. I suggest you take the money earmarked for the 21st century classrooms and make sure every classroom has the workstation we were told about at the technology plan meeting in October. This would help our teachers be more efficient in their daily routine.
- Use the $4 million from the sale of the district office property and sign one time 2 year contracts with bus drivers, teachers, and aides to reverse the difficult cuts you had to make.
- Reinstate funding for programs, such as GATE. You are still receiving funds designated for GATE that are now being used to supplement the general fund.
If you come to the parents again in 2010 or 2011 with more services being eliminated or reduced, it will be very difficult for us to be sympathetic again to your "difficult decisions" when we drive by a $12 million sports complex each day to take our kids to their overcrowded classes. This will be especially difficult for parents who use to send their kids to and from school on the bus.
According to your Board Bylaws Section BB 9322(a)
Any Board member or any member of the public may request that a matter within the jurisdiction of the Board be placed on the agenda of a regular meeting. The request must be in writing and be submitted to the Superintendent or designee with supporting documents and information, if any, at least one week before the scheduled meeting date.
Please consider the printed version of my comments tonight a written request for you to place on the agenda of the next regularly scheduled board meeting the matter of spending and priority on the district's projects designated for Measure Z funds. I am also requesting you include the matter of the expected use of the proceeds from the sale of the district's office building, specifically how Section 17463.7 of the Education Code applies. You may consider this as two separate matters and create two agenda items if you see fit.
If you decide not to approve this request, please provide me an explanation in writing.