More money for students, please
The West Sonoma County Union High School District board of trustees approved a resolution on March 7 that joined other California school districts in calling for the state to inject more money into education, specifically about $7,000 more per pupil.
The “full and fair funding” resolution calls for the state legislature to fund schools at higher levels, echoing an effort by the California School Boards Association to raise school funding to the national average by 2020 and to the average of the top 10 states by 2025.
“I would like to challenge the legislature to live up to its commitment to funding education,” said board president David Stecher. “If we were getting $15,000 per student (annually), we would not be here talking about making cuts next year.”
The resolution says that “despite its vast wealth, California has consistently underfunded public education while widening its scope, adding new requirements and raising standards without providing appropriate resources to prepare all students for college, career and civic life.”
The resolution notes that California trails the average per student spending amount in the top 10 states by almost $7,000. The resolution notes that California ranks 41st in per-pupil spending at $10,291 per pupil, which is lower than the national average of $12,252.
Board cuts may reduce classes
Almost two dozen teachers at Analy, El Molino, Laguna high schools and the West County Charter Middle School will be receiving state-mandated notices that their teaching positions may be reduced or eliminated next school year in an attempt to meet an anticipated $1.2 million budget deficit in the West Sonoma County Union High School District.
Under state law, school districts are required to notify by March 15 any certified employees whose positions may be affected by changes in the annual budget.
At its March 7 meeting, the high school district board approved notifications that will affect about 20 different courses and positions at the three high schools and the Forestville middle school. The equivalent of almost 13 positions may be lost, although Mia Del Prete, human resources director, said the number of full time equivalents is more likely to be seven lost positions because a large number of teachers are retiring this June.
The list of courses slated for possible reduction next year includes math and science; band, choir and drama; video and dance, as well as English, Spanish and French. School districts generally issue more notices of layoffs than actually transpire because distributions from the state education budget typically do not become definitive until June.
Schools tackle climate action
A half dozen students told the West Sonoma County Union High School District board on March 7 that action at the school level on climate change is necessary, so the panel obliged them by passing a resolution affirming the commitment of schools to get more involved.
The resolution passed 5-0. It recognizes climate change as an issue that leaders should work on together to enact carbon pricing policies, to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and thereby protect the health of future students.
Board president David Stecher said he does not usually support resolutions with little direct connection to school issues, but he said this one was an exception because it involves the wellbeing of future generations.
“We have a chance to show our students, teachers parents and community members that we mean business, and we will not be silent on this issue,” said Kaya Weber, an Analy senior and co-founder of Schools for Climate Action.
The school board committed itself to establishing a climate change committee to develop recommendations for taking actions such as promoting climate change education, monitoring projects for environmental sustainability and cooperating with other jurisdictions on climate change policies.