Less School Days AND Larger Classes

The settlements between the district and the two unions representing the certified (teachers) and classified (non-teachers), as reported by the union leaders last week in the Patch, apparently are not enough. Not enough to bring back all the teachers and all the bus drivers that were laid off.

Tomorrow the school board will vote to authorize the administration's plans to cut the budget. It is a shame, and an outrage, that the first time the public sees the administration's plan is when they are finally ready to have the school board vote. It still isn't possible, at least for me, to determine from the little information the district has provided exactly what all the ramifications of the board's vote tomorrow will be. It is clear, that not only will there be 5 less days of instruction but there will also be increased class sizes. We were led to believe last week by the articles in the Patch that all the teacher positions would be reinstated and class sizes left alone; now we learn 10 positions won't be reinstated and class sizes will increase.

I know one thing, 3 board members should be embarrassed by their behavior, I know I am. Mrs. Lara, Mr. Hackney and Mrs. De Longchamp have all been silent on the subject of public involvement in this budget process. Because of their silence, unlike the last time around, the parents and the community have been left out of the entire process. Last week I argued parents should have been given the opportunity to weigh in on the increased class sizes vs. instructional days debate. It's obvious now that wouldn't have made a difference. The board members we elect are supposed to represent and work for us, not the superintendent. Dr. Kayrell's "collective will" of our board has let the parents and this community down by excluding us from this process. I hold the three board members, not Dr. Kayrell, responsible for this.

There is still a chance for parents to have an impact.

The average annual cost to the school district for a teacher's salary and benefits is less than 60k. If you multiply that by ten teachers (the number who will not likely be returning to classrooms because the teacher "settlement" was not big enough) you have 600K per year. Double that number to 1.2 million and this is the cost the district needs to include in their three year projection. We all realize the school board and Dr. Kayrell are very proud of BUSD's fiscal solvency, but why not spend 1.2 million? It is less than 3% of the 24% unrestricted reserve. 1.2 million spent from the reserve is enough to keep class sizes as they are now and give our kids a great education instead of a "whatever we can get away with" education.

Please make whatever effort you can to show up tomorrow night and make your case for your kids. Even if you disagree with my position, you need to show up. Our school board should not be allowed to get away with excluding us from such an important process that has permanent effect on our kids' education and their lives.

The public portion of the board meeting should start about 7:00 and you need to be there before 7pm to fill out a permission to speak form.