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Change is Not always for the best
Original post made
by A voice unheard, another community,
on Nov 18, 2009
So many changes in the last three years are causing divisiveness and inequity at our little school. Decision makers at Sunol school continue to make poor choices when it comes to spending funds and meeting the community's needs. Money that could be spent on educational supplies and salaries for quality tenured teachers and staff is frivolously spent on the unnecessary remodeling of the classrooms, unnecessary new furnishings for offices and classrooms, and class space used for a single person office, just to keep up appearances. Time and money spent moving and re-moving preschool and childcare from room to room are unnecessary expeditures. Each move requiring some form of remodel or upgrade to meet licensing requirements. Why not leave them were they were? In a perfect, approved and safe location. Administrators continue to award themselves raises while other employees remain stagnant. There are other less costly solutions. I was taught to make do with what you have until it really must be replaced. So what if all the tables and chairs don't match? The air of affluence is overestimated by reality of needs. Personal pride is getting in the way of quality education. Administrators who monopolize power and control rather than admit error in their decisions and refuse to correct those errors, cause poor moral and feelings of inequity on campus. Children suffer the consequences. The safety of students on campus after dark, in out of the way unlit areas, is dangerous and is compromised out of stubbornness to change or "give in". Our student's safety is a priority to be considered. I don't want to have to face the consequences of injury to a child. Why are we in this business of education and nurturing if not to educate to the best of our ability with the resources that we have." Why are we in this business if not to protect and properly supervise children in our care? This is not a competition to be won by power. This is a challenge to educate our children during difficult times to become future leaders and productive adults. Let's stop the petty issues of control and get back to the real task at hand. Let's take this journey together using all of our resources for the benefit of the children and forget the selfish pride. Let's conserve resources and plan before we take actions that will hurt our programs. Let's visit the consequences of proposed actions before we take them. Let's climb down off of self created pedestals and get to work. Until we do, our children will continue to suffer the cuts made to their educations.
Posted by Former Happy Sunol Parent
a resident of Castlewood
on Nov 25, 2009 at 8:39 am
I am a former Sunol parent not because we left, but because my children graduated from this wonderful little school. Each attended kindergarten to 8th grade and each had wonderful teachers, wonderful experiences, and received a fabulous education. I was a very involved parent at Sunol and now I am very involved at the high school level. So, let me offer a different perspective than that of the Nov. 21 posting.
As a very involved parent, I found the former administrator welcoming, pleasant, and hard working. She attended functions from beginning to end. I saw her at many Community Club meeting, Board meetings, Walkathons, middle school dances, Ladies Night Out, and social functions not directly related to school events. At school events, she was not only one of the first to arrive, but would be there with the cleanup crew doing her share. She was always the one to lock up after Board meetings and Community Club meetings. I understand it's a little different now. Custodians have to extend hours to lock up after Board meetings and Community Club meetings because the principal can't leave fast enough. Friends with children still attending Sunol never see her at dances, say she makes appearances at the Walkathons, and that she was a NO SHOW at this year's Ladies Night Out. Loud and boisterous doesn't connote presence. I'll take the reserved and demure nature of the last administrator any day.
It was mentioned that the last administrator didn't follow mandated procedures for hiring. Has anyone looked into how the current administrator got the job. The rumors are quite interesting. That aside, as far as the track record of the last administrator, let's just say she hired well, and if she didn't follow mandates, well then Pleasanton USD doesn't either as they have hired many of the Sunol's past teachers. One such teacher was instrumental in beginning the laptop program at the middle school, one teaches AP history at FHS and has one of the highest percentage rates of students passing the AP test, one is one of Pleasanton's Ecology Coaches. Two who were among the massive exodus due to the current administrator have yet to make their mark, but I'm sure we'll hear great things as this is only the beginning of their second year.
Regarding out of compliance with health and safety brings a current issue to mind. I understand the preschool is being moved (AGAIN) to where the office is (AND HAD BEEN FOREVER) and the office is being moved to where the preschool is (a classroom right across from the auditorium. How safe is it to put a preschool at the front of the school with no office as a buffer. What happened to STRANGER DANGER? Also what will be done with the beautiful, huge, radiator the current office still uses for heat. That can't possibly pass safety clearance for a preschool. Set aside health and safety. What about man hours and money. How many times has this preschool been moved? Why wasn't the classroom used as a classroom as it has been for the past few years and the preschool left where it was? What is this ridiculous move going to cost? Is this district rolling in money? If so, why are the teachers paid so little?
In regard to the STELLAR family that takes half of the payroll. Well, I bet if you added the paychecks of the three family members, they wouldn't equal the current administrator's salary and percs. This family I know personally and I can say first hand that I have never met harder working, more honest, more generous people. Yes, they are religious, but LAZY? I think not. In fact I think Mormon and lazy is an oxymoron. Old fashioned? Maybe, but I heard this year's upper grade costumes would compete with those seen on 19th street in Oakland. Negative toward children? I don't think so. My kids and their classmates love this family. Stern, consistent, fair consequences, are the words that I might choose.
"Crabby, negative, long term office staff. . ." Oh boy. You really hit a cord there. The long term office staff is probably the reason we decided to enroll. The ladies that greeted us were happy, jovial, and welcoming. The office during our time there was the hub of the school. It was a bright and cheerful place, full of laughter and excitement. It was a place you felt welcome and comfortable. These ladies were known as the "Sunshine" crew. They decorated the teachers' mailboxes in a different theme each month. They started Secret Pals, Secret Santas, Boo gift mysteries, spread spring sunshine treats, and set the happy tone that was Sunol. Their cheer was infectious. The staff room was always filled with treats. You would always meet another parent, teacher or staff member there wondering what delightful treats were in store for the day. I understand the term :Ghost Town" is now used in reference to the staff room.
A retiring long tenured teacher who ran the school from underground. Well, I know this teacher personally. My kids had her and she was probably one of the more quieter teachers on the staff. My kids worked very hard in her class as she held them to high standards. A more professional lady I have never met. While on the quiet side, her knowledge of subject matter was uncanny. In fact, her knowledge was uncanny. This lady knew so much about everything. But, I don't think the teachers on staff at that time were ones to be reckoned with. All were/are intelligent, worldly, high level thinking individuals. I don't think this one teacher was running the show.
The former teacher who tried to "strong" arm the current administration into hiring a friend who did not pass clearances. Well, this friend, happened to be a former teacher who had retired the previous year. According to the State Teachers Retirement System, this retired, multiply credentialed, trilingual, veteran teacher, could teach part time. My children had this teacher, and a finer teacher cannot be found. This woman was so smart, loving, and gifted, I felt like I learned so much when I volunteered in her classroom. She brought the world into her lessons, be it art, math, social studies, reading., whatever. She had a way of connecting her background and knowledge to everything she did. She had lived in South America, traveled the world as an airline stewardess in her younger days, taught in San Francisco, and raised a family while teaching at Sunol. I am thankful my children benefitted from her teachings before she retired. Now the story I hear is not that she didn't pass clearance, but that the current administrator bought allegiance from parents who wanted "younger" teachers. If given a choice, I would take an experienced, veteran teacher any day. Oh, and the stellar, former, teacher . . . well, she is currently tutoring many of the second/third grade students. So, if the test scores are good, it might be because this STELLAR teacher is tutoring those that the younger teachers can't figure out. My children also had this teacher and she prepared them well! I still have the hard bound books my children wrote/made in her class. First grade is an important grade and she was the perfect first grade teacher. She left no stone unturned.
So, dysfunctional? Not my experience nor that of my children's. They loved it from the get go. They had the best kindergarten experience ever. In fact I would compare notes with others in P-Town, and they couldn't believe what my kid's class was doing in kindergarten. Not only the academic program, but all the extras. I understand this teacher is still there and bravo for her. I know you won't find a harder working, more dedicated, Sunol loving individual. Again, my kids were lucky to have her. In fact I feel we were all lucky to find this little school.
I am sorry your experience was so negative, but rather than casting stones at the old, perhaps you should look at the common denominator to the recent problems. Ummm, that would be the current administration would it not? Three years? That's about how long she has been there. And, from the title of the lead article, I guess it has been one change right after another. Did you know that looking to change things just for the sake of change, is a sign of insecurity and negativity? Interesting, isn't it.