Scool Budget Crisis: Have we really thought outside the box?
Original post made by Al Cohen on Jan 12, 2010
When several parents expressed our frustration with the BAC to a board member, we were told to go to the school board meeting and propose the same issues we had at the BAC meeting so that there was a public record. This recommendation in itself spoke volumes as to the effectiveness of this committee. The reality is that the BAC is given the role of ambassador to the community to carry the message that comes down from the district and the school board. It is given a Hobson's choice of cuts that there is simply no good answer.
In my last meeting back in the fall, I had suggested several potential revenue enhancing ideas to the committee. I had mentioned 1) selling of non-core assets (such as the Neal property in ruby hills.)This is standard practice in the corporate world to refocus your business 2) looking at increasing revenues from the school facility use by clubs and other groups during non-school hours. These were just illustrative ideas since we had no real picture of how revenue is generated beyond taxes.
At that time the mention of a sub-committee for revenue was brought up. I volunteered to join and subsequently never received any info that I had asked for. As stated I have since resigned due to a great frustration with the glacial pace of this committee. Today I spoke with a member of the BAC and he stated that they just decided at the meeting last week to get this sub-committee organized and appoint a facilitator.
I have spent over 30 years in business and 10 years as a volunteer at various school sites in PUSD. The difference in sense of urgency is astounding. I have heard board members state that you can't run schools like a business. I don't particularly agree (that is a subject for another time perhaps), but at least show a sense of urgency when it comes to thinking outside the box. Be open minded and allow non-traditional thinking to be encouraged. Think of different scenarios other than cut expenses and initiate a parcel tax. What would it hurt to convene some business minds and let see if there are things that can be done so we don't have to layoff teachers, custodians and counselors?
We are facing yet another year of difficult choices for the Pleasanton schools. The outlook for the next several years look grim. I encourage all parents to get involved. The schools are paid for by our tax dollars for the primary service of educating our children. My experience at the school sites working with teachers and administrators gives me comfort that they are doing the best they can given the situation. Hopefully with new leadership at the district and new board members, we can get Pleasanton schools back to where we feel that we are giving our children the best education possible.