Commentary: Should the District Lay It All Out for the Voters?

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close-schoolWe have spent a bit of time discussing on these pages whether the district ought to ask the voters one more time (or more) if they would approve yet another emergency parcel tax.

At the state level, the governor attached automatic trigger cuts to the budget so the voters know exactly what the consequences will be if the tax measure fails.  They are immensely unpopular with the voters, but they serve a number of vital purposes.

There are drawbacks to every course of action, but it might serve the district well to actually have had the debates, the public meetings, and what cuts could be in effect, their own version of trigger cuts, prior to the November election.

Perhaps this is a radical proposal, but perhaps this is just my view that there ought to be transparency.  There are clear disadvantages to doing this in advance.

The first is that it will be seen as a scare tactic.  Critics will accuse the district of being overly dramatic in an effort to sell the parcel tax to the voters.  There are two good responses to that, and the first is that there is really no easy way to cut $7.5 million from the budget.  The second is that this will not be an academic exercise.  The district will be making real cuts, affecting real people, and they will, by and large, have to live with these cuts.

The second danger is that people will agree with the cuts and see it as evidence that the sky is not going to fall.  I do not think there is a real danger of that, but it is there.

The third is that the cuts will anger key constituencies and harm the district’s ability to forge a winning coalition.

Of the three dangers, I think the first is the most serious, coupled with the argument that this move will reap of desperation.

Nevertheless, there are a number of positives that can be gleaned from this, the first being that we are going to have to do this anyway, potentially, for two reasons.  First, if the trigger cuts are put into play there will be a six-month period where the district will have to deal without a portion of its funding that would get picked up in 2013-14 should the parcel tax pass.

Second, if the parcel tax does not pass, it gives the district additional time to make the proper decisions.

That leads us to one of the strengths of going through this process early.  This community has tremendous capacity to innovate.  We get great ideas all the time.  Allowing for a prolonged budget discussion will enable the school district to find additional ways to get by, in the event of the unthinkable.

The district has used the parcel tax measures to shore up the core programs and provide the district with necessary programs that other districts have had to cut.  There is not a lot of excess to cut at this point.

Some have pointed to the 2.5 vice principal positions at the high school, without offering a whole lot of insight into the jobs that they perform.  We know, in fact, that the district in the last round of cuts eliminated some junior high vice principal positions.

While that may draw questions about priorities, it also points to a few things.  First, those making decisions evaluated the importance of the vice principal at a junior versus the high school, and felt retaining the high school positions was a priority.  Second, someone deemed those positions more important than an equivalent teaching position, as about 50 teachers were laid off.

Finally, the vice principal position at the junior high is one of the positions that community volunteers believe important enough to use their money to restore.

Nevertheless, it appears in the next round of cuts, those vice principal positions would go.

An April article in the Enterprise gives us a flavor: “When a Holmes Junior High School student is found intoxicated on campus, it’s Vice Principal Kerin Kelleher who will accompany her to the emergency room and stay with her until parents arrive.”

“And when a student at Da Vinci Junior High is being bullied, it’s Vice Principal Troy Reeves who will likely be the first to step in.”

In fact, my contact with one of the high school vice principals was based on the alcohol issue, which has apparently become a tremendous problem in the schools.

Before we get too far astray, having budget discussions will force the district to prioritize programs and defend them to the public.

Unfortunately, these discussions lose focus quickly.  You do not cut $7.5 million around the edges.  We may argue about whether we should really have 2.5 vice principals at the high school, but we know that is a relatively small issue compared to the overall picture.

As we have noted several times, Board President Susan Lovenburg said the board discussed some of this and it would mean a 30 to 65 FTE (full time emploees) reduction on top of this year’s 50 positions that were laid off.

“As Winfred said during the meeting, those aren’t cuts that you can make and keep the doors open,” she said.  “So it would involve negotiating concessions to shorten the school year, it would likely involve looking at whether we can consolidate schools, because we’ve really been able to hold that conversation steady – the question of school closure.”

We know from 2008 that school closings are bitter, contentious and take a lot of time and energy.  That means having these discussions early will focus parents on the realities that we are facing, while at the same time giving them time to make alternative plans and giving the district the time to weigh all options without having to rush into a decision.

We need to have a discussion about what this district will look like with $7.5 million less in cuts.

The big proposal, in addition to consolidation of schools, will be a discussion of shortening the school year by 15 days.  That is what is being proposed at the state level.

The advantage to that proposal is that it creates the concessions by the teachers.  It also gives the district maximum flexibility to restore the school year when money comes available.

But it comes at an ultimate cost – the huge drawback is that it takes instructional time away from students.  15 days is three weeks of school.  But multiply that out by 13 years for K-12 and you are talking about 195 days or just over a year less of instruction.

The impact on the students would be tremendous if they lost anything approaching a year’s worth of instructional time over the course of their schooling.

I think there is a lot of merit to lay all the proposals on the table, have a full community discussion, and then the community can decide whether they want to pay more in the parcel tax or take the cuts that are on the table.

—David M. Greenwald reporting

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About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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68 thoughts on “Commentary: Should the District Lay It All Out for the Voters?”

  1. JustSaying

    “Some have pointed to the 2.5 Vice Principal positions at the high school without offering a whole lot of insight into the jobs that they perform….Finally, the Vice Principal position at the Junior High is one of the positions that community volunteers believe important enough to use their money to restore.”

    Couldn’t both of these observations be made about other positions? Why single out vice principal positions?

  2. David M. Greenwald

    It’s an example that has come up.

    I think in general there has been a prioritization of positions. One of the reason the VP positions have not only been retained but restored is that the community, in particular parents, see them as critical.

  3. JustSaying

    Another example of a court decision with disastrous, unintended consequences. State funding of schools corrects one problem in the short term, then drags down all schools on a long term (permanent?) basis. How can we correct this and be fair and just to all students/districts?

  4. 91 Octane

    okay um how many times is the vanguard going to regurgitate ad nauseam its support for the schools?

    the vanguard said that we are not even close to more than one vp per school and nor should we have one. that turned out to be a false statement. Then the vanguard said “well I didn’t know if you were talking “district wide.” which is rediculous because DSHS is the main high school in the district.

    now the vanguard is saying well, you don’t know what jobs they perform.

    Come on.

    THe vanguard also clings to “its only one example.” the vanguard appears to be under the assumption this is the only example of misspent resources. I tend to be of the mind “when there’s smoke, there’s fire.” and we already have the valley oak mess and the stadium debacle to add to that.

  5. Hmmmm...

    [quote]The district has used the parcel tax measures to shore up the core programs and provide the district with necessary programs that other districts have had to cut.[/quote]

    I don’t see it quite this way. I think the parcel taxes have preseved the status quo in class offerings. However, when you have 37 students in core English classes (HJH) and 3 different elective physics offerings (regular, Honors, and AP Physics at DHS), the District shows that it has prioritzed providing its elective cirriculum over its core cirriculum.

    I would be interested in a community discussion about educational priorites and would particularly like to see our community go back to the beginning and discuss the purpose of Public Education.

  6. K.Smith

    Regarding the Junior High Vice Principal: Troy Reeves is also a classroom teacher (and therefore is not just filling a role that some people in this community might regard as “unneeded”).

  7. David M. Greenwald

    “okay um how many times is the vanguard going to regurgitate ad nauseam its support for the schools?”

    This is not one of them – this is a suggestion for them to have the tough discussion in advance and allow the voters to decide.

    “the vanguard said that we are not even close to more than one vp per school and nor should we have one. that turned out to be a false statement.”

    This is a misstatement of not only what I said, but the facts.

    Octane: “How many VP’s per school? One per grade level?”
    vanguard: “We don’t have anything close to one per grade level, nor should we.”

    I read your comment to be on average across the district, I did not realize you were referring to one specific school.

    The fact is that we don’t have one VP per grade level even at DHS which is the only school with close that number and they have 2.5 VPs for 3 grade levels.

    ” Then the vanguard said “well I didn’t know if you were talking “district wide.” which is rediculous because DSHS is the main high school in the district.”

    Your comment did not specify that you were referring to only the HS level.

    “now the vanguard is saying well, you don’t know what jobs they perform. Come on.”

    You don’t. Neither you or your alter-ego have been able to answer that question.

    “THe vanguard also clings to “its only one example.” the vanguard appears to be under the assumption this is the only example of misspent resources. I tend to be of the mind “when there’s smoke, there’s fire.” and we already have the valley oak mess and the stadium debacle to add to that. “

    Show me $7.5 million or even $1 million worth of examples and I say we have something.

    You still have not been able to demonstrate that this money is misspent, only that it doesn’t comport with your perception of what the priorities should be.

  8. David M. Greenwald

    [quote]However, when you have 37 students in core English classes (HJH) and 3 different elective physics offerings (regular, Honors, and AP Physics at DHS), the District shows that it has prioritzed providing its elective cirriculum over its core cirriculum. [/quote]

    This seems like an odd comment that I don’t quite understand. I view physics as part of the math and science core that we ought to be teaching. How do you view it?

  9. E Roberts Musser

    [quote]I would be interested in a community discussion about educational priorites and would particularly like to see our community go back to the beginning and discuss the purpose of Public Education.[/quote]

    Amen! I suspect if there were a community wide discussion, 3 VPs at the high school might come under fire, along with many other decisions the school district has made in the past. It is not clear to me whether the community is in line with the school district’s view of priorities or not…

  10. David M. Greenwald

    “Amen! I suspect if there were a community wide discussion, 3 VPs at the high school might come under fire, along with many other decisions the school district has made in the past. It is not clear to me whether the community is in line with the school district’s view of priorities or not…”

    First, why do you keep repeating the misinformation – it’s not three VPs.

    Second, it is on the list of potential cuts, and has been before. In the past it was cut and restored by volunteer funding. So I’m not sure how you can categorically say that what you have.

  11. 91 Octane

    vanguard: “Second, it is on the list of potential cuts, and has been before. In the past it was cut and restored by volunteer funding. So I’m not sure how you can categorically say that what you have.”

    if it is on the list of potential cuts, and has been before, then the board itself recognizes it wasn’t needed.

    vanuard: “First, why do you keep repeating the misinformation – it’s not three VPs.”

    3 vps and an administrative assistant to the vp.

  12. David M. Greenwald

    “if it is on the list of potential cuts, and has been before, then the board itself recognizes it wasn’t needed.”

    No, they just recognized that it was more needed than things already cut and less needed than things that are not on the cut list. It’s not a scale not a black and white determination.

    “this is not 2.5 vps. it is 3 vps plus an administrative assistant. “

    The third VP position is half time.

    Do you know what an administrative assistant is? They basically are getting one aa for three people, 2.5 positions. Again until you figure out what these positions are entailing, you’re blindly criticizing the actions of those who do.

  13. David M. Greenwald

    “this is not 2.5 vps. it is 3 vps plus an administrative assistant.”

    There are two full time and one part time positions. Why are you having such difficulty with this concept?

  14. E Roberts Musser

    [quote]There are two full time and one part time positions. Why are you having such difficulty with this concept?[/quote]

    How about just one full time VP for DHS? Sounds more reasonable to me…

  15. rusty49

    “You think one person can handle the discipline for 2000 students plus supervise 150 employees?”

    Yes I do.

    How many of the 2000 actually ever need to be disciplined?

    How much supervision is needed for the 150 employees who all already know their jobs?

  16. Hmmmm...

    “This seems like an odd comment that I don’t quite understand. I view physics as part of the math and science core that we ought to be teaching. How do you view it?”

    Personally, I think regular physics is a “core” class, but it isn’t exactly. Only one physical science class is required to graduate, chemistry or physics.

    I am bothered that high acheiving students have 3 choices for physics, two of which are not full (or don’t stay full), while students persuing the “core” cirriculum have one crowded choice.

  17. rusty49

    I was just answering your question, “You think one person can handle the discipline for 2000 students plus supervise 150 employees?”

    Again my answer is yes. Look David, the taxpayers are getting maxed out and some things need to go and I think cutting VP’s is a good way to get the ball rolling.

  18. David M. Greenwald

    “Look David, the taxpayers are getting maxed out and some things need to go and I think cutting VP’s is a good way to get the ball rolling.”

    Or maybe it means we’ll pay more money. Either because the police have to intervene earlier or because the intervention doesn’t occur.

  19. wdf1

    Hmmm: [i]I am bothered that high acheiving students have 3 choices for physics, two of which are not full (or don’t stay full), while students persuing the “core” cirriculum have one crowded choice.[/i]

    These days, you are generally expected to know what you want to major in when you go to college if you want to graduate in four years. And even with that it is a strain to pull that off these days. If as a junior or senior you think you might like to major in physical science in college, then you might choose AP physics to see how you might do in something close to a college level physics class and possibly take “normal” English. If on the other hand, you thought you’d like to major in English, the you might take AP English/Literature but take “normal” physics. AP classes are as crowded as non-AP classes. You can get rid of AP classes and your staffing would be equivalent, because the students still have to take their required classes. AP classes are a substitute for “regular” classes.

  20. wdf1

    rusty: [i]… I think cutting VP’s is a good way to get the ball rolling.[/i]

    Teachers then become more liable for dealing with discipline and student issues when they’re better off focusing on teaching. Teachers become less effective.

  21. Hmmmm...

    wdf “You can get rid of AP classes and your staffing would be equivalent, because the students still have to take their required classes. AP classes are a substitute for “regular” classes.”

    I am not convinced. Maybe for English, when you are required to take 4 years, but not for AP science, AP math, AP art, or AP music. When a student is taking these AP classes, it is elective. With respect to science, since the standard sequence of science classes is pushed down 1 year (Biology-9, Chemisry-10, Physics-11), a number of students are taking spots in two years of the same science. There is some scheduling flexibiliy under this tradition. DHS has 4 years to offer 3 years of science. They could alternate years offering AP Chem and AP Physics, for example. [Like alternating Chinese 1 and German 1]

  22. wdf1

    Hmmm: A student could take regular calculus or AP calculus. If a student doesn’t take AP calculus, then he/she takes regular calculus. I fail to see why you think the AP part would suddenly make it an elective. If a student wants to major in art or music, why not have an AP option instead of only a regular option? Again, if you shut down AP art or music, you move them into regular classes at no reduction in cost.

    [i]They could alternate years offering AP Chem and AP Physics, for example.[/i]

    If the demand is high enough for both, why not offer both? They are offering both Chinese I and German I next year. Enough students signed up.

  23. 91 Octane

    vanguard: “There are two full time and one part time positions. Why are you having such difficulty with this concept? “

    I’m not. but to say that someone who works 1/2 hours is only half a vice principal is misleading. But lets say you are right. Thats 2.5 vps plus an AA and lets even assume the AA works part time even giving your side the full benefit of the doubt (which I don’t). THat makes for .5 a posiion helping shoulder VP administrative duties plus the other .5 of a vp. Added together between the two, that makes for duties of at least one VP. so you get three, not two.

    vanguard: “Again until you figure out what these positions are entailing, you’re blindly criticizing the actions of those who do.”

    So if the school board decided to put additional vps across the district, until I know exactly what work each one does on a daily basis, I cannot criticize either?

  24. 91 Octane

    volunteer funding that could have gone to other piorities.”

    vanguard: “The volunteers chose the priorities”

    use your critical thinking skills. the volunteers are prioritizing based on whatever the district feeds them about what is important at the time.

  25. David M. Greenwald

    “use your critical thinking skills. the volunteers are prioritizing based on whatever the district feeds them about what is important at the time.”

    That’s an assumption on your part without evidence or inquiry.

  26. Hmmmm...

    “Again, if you shut down AP art or music, you move them into regular classes at no reduction in cost.”

    It depends on numbers, right? And how you define a class as “full.” Four classes that are under-enrolled by 9 each means you could have not offered one class. If one takes off the blinders and looks at “students taking physics” as regular physics + honors + AP physics you have different choices than if you look at each offering uniquely. For example, let’s say AP physics is full at 26, honors is full at 26, and two regular physics classes are full with 26 students each. Those 4 classes could be reduced to 3 physics classes with 35 students each.

    “If the demand is high enough for both, why not offer both? They are offering both Chinese I and German I next year. Enough students signed up.”

    If there is enough money, absolutely offer both. But should language classes, which are electives, consist of 26 students or should the core class sizes, say English and Algebra classes, be kept down?

  27. David M. Greenwald

    “but to say that someone who works 1/2 hours is only half a vice principal is misleading.”

    It’s a half time position, which means they get half of the pay. They also double as a librarian, which means they are using one person to fill two positions.

    The AA does not work part time but they are staffing 2.5 positions.

    “Added together between the two, that makes for duties of at least one VP. so you get three, not two. “

    Your logic is flawed here. The AA does not fulfill the duties of a VP. They are doing clerical work for 2.5 positions.

    “So if the school board decided to put additional vps across the district, until I know exactly what work each one does on a daily basis, I cannot criticize either? “

    In my opinion, if you want to evaluate and criticize the use of resources, you ought to at least have informed yourself as to workload and job description. That’s a general point. For example, the city of Davis has created some large positions but have subsumed several smaller positions into them so that there is actually a net savings for producing that position.

    In the example you cite, there is a substantial difference between making the decision to maintain a current position and adding one.

  28. 91 Octane

    okay. so we get two vps for starters. The third vp is .5 a vp. that is in addition to a full time administrative assistant – assuming we go by the vanguard’s claims. the AA shoulders the burden for 2.5vps (work they themselves do not do and would be expected to without the AA) so add one full time AA plus .5 vp – at a minimum the duties are one vp. so we end up with at a minimum one vp. at a minimum we get three, not two.

  29. 91 Octane

    but lets even chop my figure up. we say 2.5 vps not including the AA… so at a minimum when we factor in the workload of the AA we come up with a figure greater than 2.5.

  30. 91 Octane

    That’s an assumption on your part without evidence or inquiry.

    the school board either had input or it did not. if it did, then they didn’t prioritize. if they did not then they were not doing their jobs by pushing the volunteers to give in other more vital areas.

  31. Siegel

    Amazing. $7.5 million hole and this guy Octane is focusing on a few positions. Asked why, his only answer, “the vanguard appears to be under the assumption this is the only example of misspent resources. I tend to be of the mind “when there’s smoke, there’s fire.” and we already have the valley oak mess and the stadium debacle to add to that.”

    His evidence? Maybe the district has paid $100,000 more than it needs to for a VP, $600,000 in savings on Valley Oak, and the DHS Stadium which is facility money that is proscribed by law from going to the classrooms.

    So his only evidence that the district is wasting resources is 1/70th of the budget deficit. I guess since you have one example, the district’s going to find another $7.4 million? Is that you’re contention here?

    Otherwise, you are wasting David Greenwald’s time and distracting from an interesting idea he put forward.

  32. Siegel

    Absolutely right rusty, now show me the other erroneous expenditures. Until that happens, the district has to either cut teaching positions or raise money, so why are we wasting our time on this?

  33. rusty49

    Well Brian, do you think teaching Chinese and German is a high priority at this time of fiscal crisis? Read above as Hmmmmm……has come up with other interesting possibilities for cuts.

  34. wdf1

    Hmmm: The school board had a whole discussion of low-enrolled classes at theirMay 3 meeting ([url]http://djusd.davismedia.org/content/may-3rd-2012-school-board-meeting[/url]). That discussion did NOT indicate that they’re staffing physics courses at 26. Board documents for that meeting listed courses with less than 30 as “low enrolled,” and science courses didn’t show up. The class size average that DHS is targeting is in the upper 30’s. The discussion mentioned art classes all in excess of 40 students.

    So unless you can point specifically to where the understaffing is occurring, your point is moot.

  35. Siegel

    “Well Brian, do you think teaching Chinese and German is a high priority at this time of fiscal crisis?”

    Unless the classes are under enrolled, then it doesn’t matter because you have to fund a certain number of classes.

    ” Read above as Hmmmmm……has come up with other interesting possibilities for cuts. “

    Hmmmm, doesn’t appear to understand these basic facts any more than you.

    As WDF stated, unless you find classes that are understaffed and underenrolled, it doesn’t matter if you offer the courses. Chinese is probably as good an investment as Japanese and Russian were a generation ago.

  36. Sherman

    Yes, the DJUSD should lay it all out for voters. However, I don’t believe the School Board meetings provide the discussion that is necessary between the Board and the community. I attended the School Board meeting where Richard Harris proposed his parcel tax. I made a statement that I believed the Board was not considering the fiscal constraints of the community given that many in the community are employed by the State of California. This means that families are dealing with decreases in their take-home pay due to furloughs or no cost of living adjustments with concurrent increases in health insurance premiums. If you then take this to the next level with families that have high-school or college-aged students, then there are potentially greater monetary constraints due to the astronomic increases in college tuition and fees. I was trying to describe real concerns and the reply I received from Richard Harris was that I did not value education. Unfortunately, I was not provided the opportunity to reply, but such a glib statement indicates an unwillingness to take into account divergent viewpoints. This is not an attitude I expect when I am a DJUSD benefactor through parcel taxes and directed school donations. Without a true forum for discussion, I believe that the community’s concerns cannot be adequately addressed.

  37. wdf1

    Sherman: I suggest contacting school board members directly outside of a meeting to express concerns like yours, even meet for coffee, if that works for you. School board meetings allow for brief comments with little to no follow up. Usually it’s because extended discussions don’t allow for the board to get through all of the agenda and sometimes there are many people who want to say something in public comment. Some school board members are more open to meeting with constituents than others.

    I think other school board members are sensitive to concerns like yours. Richard Harris wanted something more ambitious, other school board members reigned in his proposal.

  38. David M. Greenwald

    Also generally speaking a public meeting does not allow – by law – for give and take between a board member and the public.

    You raise a good point and I think at least some of the discussions need to be in the form of a public meeting rather than a board meeting.

  39. wdf1

    DMG: [i]You raise a good point and I think at least some of the discussions need to be in the form of a public meeting rather than a board meeting.[/i]

    The school district has done these before, probably a little more frequently with Hammond. But even with Roberson, they had a public forum this past February ([url]http://www.davisenterprise.com/local-news/superintendent-outlines-budget-challenge-with-no-easy-solution/[/url]). The story doesn’t report this, but they took questions in a less rigid format that allowed for follow ups.

  40. rusty49

    Sherman….”I was trying to describe real concerns and the reply I received from Richard Harris was that I did not value education.”

    That’s the attitude that seems to permeate from the all of the school parcel taxes are good side of the debate. Here Sherman had a reasonable concern that was just brushed away like his concerns didn’t really matter.

  41. 91 Octane

    brian: “So his only evidence that the district is wasting resources is 1/70th of the budget deficit. I guess since you have one example, the district’s going to find another $7.4 million? Is that you’re contention here?”

    so you’re position is that if abuse of public trust makes up a relatively small part of the total budget, we should just ignore it or pretend it doesn’t exist.

  42. JustSaying

    [quote]“volunteer funding that could have gone to other piorities.”

    “The volunteers chose the priorities.”[/quote]I may have missed this, but who are the volunteers who financed the funding of one assistant principal? And, why would volunteers set priorities for staffing instead of the superintendent and/or board?

    I’m not sure, David, but it seems as though you look at the school district funding issues quite a bit differently than you do the city funding issues. There probably are good reasons. I tend to support schools without much question.

    But, are the health insurance, retirement age and other benefit costs not an issue for teachers and administrators the way they constantly are in play for tree trimmers and fire fighters?

    Shouldn’t we be looking at cutting back such benefits for these folks as well as city employees not that we’re short of tax money on a long term basis?

    Recently, someone suggested there might be potential for using community college professors to teach high school classes. This sounds promising, particularly for advanced placement courses. I’ll be glad to reschedule my Costco trips so that I can deliver CC profs to DHS. Has anyone in authority looked at this suggestion?

  43. wdf1

    Justsaying: [i]I may have missed this, but who are the volunteers who financed the funding of one assistant principal? And, why would volunteers set priorities for staffing instead of the superintendent and/or board?[/i]

    Davis Schools Foundation fundraising. They set their priorities for fundraising based on foundation board conversations, community/donor feedback, and discussions with the district. The school board can always reject DSF donations, but the school board did give the okay for DSF fundraising priorities at a board meeting this spring, maybe sometime in April.

    [i]Recently, someone suggested there might be potential for using community college professors to teach high school classes. This sounds promising, particularly for advanced placement courses. I’ll be glad to reschedule my Costco trips so that I can deliver CC profs to DHS. Has anyone in authority looked at this suggestion?[/i]

    CC professor salaries cost more than credentialed teachers. Also, you need a California teaching credential to teach in a K-12 public school.

  44. wdf1

    rusty49: [i]Here Sherman had a reasonable concern that was just brushed away like his concerns didn’t really matter.[/i]

    …brushed away like [s]his[/s] [b]her[/b] concerns…

  45. SODA

    Lehrer Hour has had segments the last wo nights on efforts of one Texas town to decrease high HS dropout rate. Anyone see it?
    Not our situation but the creativity and inventiveness shown by the Superintendent and I assume Board is remarkable including introducing college classes either on HS campus or off.

    I think some of the negativeness here in Davis is Board’s perceived lack of creativity, just wanting the status quo and funding returned rather than looking at more core issues.
    David’s thoughts today seem to be asking the community and schools to do this.

  46. JustSaying

    Thanks, wdf1. Wouldn’t the DSF would be receptive to the district leadership’s priorities, rather than insisting on some staffing that the district didn’t want just because they’re paying the bill? Rather than reject DSF donations, I’d hope they work together as a team and come to agreement without even considering such confrontations.

    I think the original community college suggestion was for single special course teaching, say, Chinese or some exotic course with student interest. Not to recruit a professor for full-timework, but just as a temporary measure to keep Davis schools special. Maybe profs earn enough to help out for a semester or two. But, the credential requirement eliminates that concept, I guess.

  47. wdf1

    JustSaying: [i]I’d hope they work together as a team and come to agreement without even considering such confrontations.[/i]

    I dunno. From everything I can tell, they all have a very collaborative relationship.

    CC’s: I’m aware that some community colleges use high school campuses to teach courses, but only after hours (after school dismissal). The worlds of high school and community college are different. In high school, every student of a certain age is obligated to attend; college is entirely at the option and decision of the student. In high school, most students are underage; in college nearly all are 18 or older. etc.

  48. David M. Greenwald

    “But, are the health insurance, retirement age and other benefit costs not an issue for teachers and administrators the way they constantly are in play for tree trimmers and fire fighters?”

    The city employees have a much more lucrative health insurance than teachers. I also believe that teachers get 2% at 60 rather than 2.5% at 55 or 3% at 50 which city employees get.

  49. Mr.Toad

    Arguing over which class should be smaller, English or Physics, is a false choice because they should both be smaller. Of course it also depends on the teacher as well and the size of the classroom too. Experienced teachers can handle bigger classes with better outcomes than inexperienced teachers in smaller classrooms. Still the larger the class the more time spent on disruptions.

    I remember many years ago I participated in a program through Lawrence Hall of Science to get people from industry into Science classrooms. This was based on the false premise that they knew more about what needed to be taught than we did. This woman spent a week with me in my class helping out. On the last day I let her teach the lesson to over 30 sophomores. The kids were attentive but broke into their own discussions after each point was made. She had no idea how to refocus them. So each time it became clear they were not refocusing I would give them a hand signal and a word and they would immediately fall silent.”Its harder than it looks” she told me later.

    A better program was one where science teachers were placed into industry. I spent a month one summer at Alza. I was able to go back to my classroom and tell the kids what they want in the job market.

    I have no doubt that the teachers in DJUSD know the material they are teaching. Bringing in College instructors would yield no better, and perhaps worse, results. After all, what would these people know about classroom management at he secondary level?

  50. Mr.Toad

    I donated to DSF. i would have been happier if the money went to other positions such as counselors instead of vice-principals. However, nit picking every decision isn’t going to move us forward. The DSF and the Trustees are doing the best they can during the most difficult situation in the last 80 years. We can pull together or pull apart. If the people who have intimate knowledge of the inner workings of the schools have a priority we should give them the benefit of the doubt. After all, that is why we elect them in the first place.

  51. wdf1

    Mr. T: [i]I donated to DSF. i would have been happier if the money went to other positions such as counselors instead of vice-principals.[/i]

    DSF fundraising goals ([url]http://www.davisschoolsfoundation.org/[/url]) this year included high school counselors.

  52. E Roberts Musser

    [quote]I was trying to describe real concerns and the reply I received from Richard Harris was that I did not value education. Unfortunately, I was not provided the opportunity to reply, but such a glib statement indicates an unwillingness to take into account divergent viewpoints. [/quote]

    When I have tried to bring issues before the school board, I have gotten the same cold shoulder response. It does not appear to me that the school board is receptive to community input…

  53. rusty49

    ERM….”When I have tried to bring issues before the school board, I have gotten the same cold shoulder response. It does not appear to me that the school board is receptive to community input…”

    ERM, maybe the only community input they want is for us to “input” our money.

  54. wdf1

    ERM: [i]When I have tried to bring issues before the school board, I have gotten the same cold shoulder response. It does not appear to me that the school board is receptive to community input…[/i]

    I say that it depends on whom you contact and on what issue. I have been satisfied with their responsiveness to me. They don’t always share my views, but I think they listen. If you want acknowledgement for sending in an e-mail with concerns, Lovenburg, Daleiden, and Allen are the most reliable. Sometimes they will share what they’re thinking, sometimes it’s a “thanks for your input.” Also if you want to meet with them in person, those are often the most available ones. School board members aren’t big on micro-managing, so if you complain about why a teacher won’t accept your child’s late homework, that’s barking up the wrong tree.

    If you compare DJUSD school board to other districts, our school board is far more involved and active. What is more typical to see is for school board members to be a less responsive and involved and act as a rubber stamp for what the school administration proposes. Our school board appears to want administrative staff that is more deferential to school board input. In other districts the leadership more strongly emanates from the superintendent and staff.

    So it’s not perfect, but I think it’s a better situation for Davis than the alternatives.

    As for Sherman’s comment, from watching the video archive of the meeting, I think on the whole the board moved in her direction on the issue of the parcel tax. Harris was arguing for a $642 parcel tax proposal, and I think he was over-zealous in arguing against her point. Lovenburg, Allen, and Daleiden argued for scaling back, probably in sensitivity to comments like Sherman’s, among other things.

  55. rusty49

    “As for Sherman’s comment, from watching the video archive of the meeting, I think on the whole the board moved in her direction on the issue of the parcel tax. Harris was arguing for a $642 parcel tax proposal, and I think he was over-zealous in arguing against her point. Lovenburg, Allen, and Daleiden argued for scaling back, probably in sensitivity to comments like Sherman’s, among other things.”

    In my opinion the $642 was all part of the game plan. Ask for more and settle for less but still ask voters for more than double the original $204.

  56. Siegel

    “When I have tried to bring issues before the school board, I have gotten the same cold shoulder response. It does not appear to me that the school board is receptive to community input… “

    You of all people should know the rules for public comment, Elaine.

  57. E Roberts Musser

    [quote]You of all people should know the rules for public comment, Elaine.[/quote]

    Yes, I most certainly do. And thus: 1) I do not expect public comments to be met with disrespect and disdain; 2) I expect the school board to actually listen to what citizens have to say with an open mind. It was clear to me the school board had already made up its mind and was not interested in hearing any opposition to what it had already decided…

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