In his December message, WCCUSD Superintendent Bruce Harter conveys the heartfelt gratitude of every West County education leader. The passage of Prop 30 and Measure G stayed vicious cuts into our schools’ core functions. Community support carries us through the most tumultuous financial conditions in living memory, demonstrating your belief in our students. When uncertainty pulls many to withhold, you voted to invest in our future. For this generosity and forethought, we thank you.
Our gratitude for this fall’s success is tempered by the magnitude of endured cuts. Current school funding is a fraction of revenues anticipated prior to the economic downturn. WCCUSD lost $40 million from 2007. We shepherded funds to keep instructional minutes intact and preserve programs like music and adult school –albeit in reduced form. The price was paid in higher class sizes, sharp reductions in employee compensation and decline in curriculum beyond the three R’s.
West County entered the Great Recession with significant challenges. We believe all of our students are capable of great things, yet we acknowledge not all have the resources to cultivate this potential. Neither our federal nor state systems adequately compensate for our greater task. Our per pupil funding is among the lowest in the nation, completely inadequate for a community with high living costs, yet the situation stands.
This Wednesday, December 19, the WCCUSD Board of Education will host a workshop from 6-8 pm at the LaVonya DeJean Middle School Multi-purpose room. Our purpose is simple. We will listen to people’s priorities ahead of our annual board retreat scheduled for January 5, 2013. Your voice is valued in setting new directions. Come to the workshop and let your views be known.
Areas of focus might include:
- Class size reduction through the grades
- Increased support for school safety
- Improved professional development for staff
- Enhanced preparation for the new academic standards
- Intervention for students in most need
Unfortunately, we cannot speak of restoring schools to their former functioning. That day will hopefully come in the near future as the economy improves. We must focus on the high-leverage elements that drive student success. We need your insight.
I am so very proud to live in this community. Time and again, West County residents stand up to shoulder the responsibility of seeing all children succeed. You know that the development of the nearly 30,000 students in our system can’t be forestalled. Their futures cannot be put on hold until days brighten.
Education done right can shift the arc of the individual and community. It is arguably the most important role of government. A strategic focus of effort and resources will tide us through these tough times. This board welcomes your thoughts on the issues.