We need to concentrate on the "Here and Now" so our kids have a future.

Tonight's board meeting confirmed my belief that the parents in this district do care and are willing to make the effort to let our board know what direction they want them to lead the administration. It also confirmed my belief that the board, as a whole, is unable to provide the leadership our schools and students need.

Beaumont Unified School District Board President, Mrs. Lara, told us when she visited kindergarten classes she always saw two adults in every class. She asked, "How about asking parents to help?" Then she added, "It's more about attitude than ability." I can't agree with her more which is why I ask, "How come the district won't work with parents to develop a written parent involvement plan?" I have more details regarding the legally required parent involvement plan on ourfocusourkids.com website. Now she wants parents to help but all year I have been asking the board to develop a plan to increase parent involvement and my requests have fallen on deaf ears.

There were so many interesting comments from the board and the superintendent tonight that I am unable to address them all adequately in one post. Tonight I will address the sports complex, administrative offices and the flexibility of the surplus property proceeds from the sale of district property. I plan to take the next week to give you my thoughts regarding the other interesting moments.

More than 20 parents and teachers came tonight to show the board they want something done about the large kindergarten classes. Some came begging the board to make changes others came with suggestions and alternatives and a few came with demands. There were also four community members who came to show support for the new sports complex at the high school and encouraged the board to "stay the course".

The sport complex and the administration offices can, and should be, financed by Measure Z money or other funds that are restricted to facilities projects. I understand the importance of each project and I think both are necessary. When I asked last week, "Do we really need a sports complex now?" I was objecting to using funds that could be used for additional teachers and transportation (non-Measure Z funds) on projects that were advertised as Measure Z projects; I wasn't objecting to the projects.

I agree we need these projects but I want to caution the community members supporting the sports complex. Before I moved to Beaumont, I read all about the state of the art aquatic center being built at the high school and how it was going to be a benefit to the community. I heard about how it would be available for the community as well as the students. As far as I know, there has been no public swim sessions and the community groups who do use the pool are treated as second class citizens. The comments I heard last night about the "Community" sports complex sounded all too familiar.

If there are funds that the state has authorized small districts some flexibility in how they are spent and these funds can be used to reduce class sizes and provide transportation for all our students, why should they be used for facility construction? The voters already authorized $125,000,000 in new property taxes for facility construction. Not a single board member even suggested the administration should look into the flexibility of these surplus property funds. One speaker suggested the use of the old Chavez school site to temporarily house the administrative offices and not one board member had any comment to what appears to be a sound "out of the box" idea.

Topics to be covered in coming days:

  • Teachers from Tournament Hills Elementary want to employ the early bird late bird plan the board originally supported last year until some kindergarten teachers spoke out against it and the board decided to follow the teachers' suggestions. The board's response was to remind us they thought the early bird late bird plan was a good idea but they decided against their own judgment and gave in to the wishes of some kindergarten teachers who had voiced their objections.

  • Mr. Sanchez wants more dialogue from third grade teachers. He doesn't seem to understand why they are only hearing from teachers and parents of kindergartners even though third grade class sizes also went from 21 to 33 students. He reminded us they had to make difficult decisions and there are more to come. He also reminded us there was a Budget Review Committee that addressed these difficult decisions. I was a member of this committee and I have some interesting observations to share.

  • The superintendent and board were criticized tonight for renewing the $12,000 contract for the district's press relations coordinator. The response we heard was that if good press could help bring a few additional students to our district or keep some others from leaving than it would pay for itself. I agree with the superintendent and I have some ideas about where else this logic could apply.

  • Mrs. Lara said "We can't only concentrate on the here and now, we have to look out for the future." Tonight, we were presented a very positive report summarizing the district's latest test scores. I found it interesting that the results seem to have a direct correlation to class sizes. Every chart seemed to peak at the fourth grade level. Until this year, grades K-3 had smaller class sizes. If we don't concentrate on the "here and now", what is going to happen to the future of our kids when they don't have as strong a foundation as their older brothers and sisters had?