Monday, August 4, 2014

Brainstorming the "Ugly List" In Preparation for the Next CUSD Board Meeting (Aug. 5th)

Thinking Ahead
In Preparation for the Next Calaveras Unified Board Meeting on Aug. 5th, a public and/or community discussion (and brainstorm of ideas/solutions/questions) concerning the CUSD "Ugly List" (Reductions Needed and Reflected in 2014-15 Adopted Budget) appears highly warranted and necessary.

If the Calaveras Educational Community is allotted the time to review and analyze the complete list of potential reduction items (the Ugly List) along with current and accurate financial statements of Calaveras Unified, there could then be a week (7 days) of critical thinking, brainstorming, and sharing of ideas--by the public--in advance of the Aug. 5th board meeting.

This type of public input would go a long way to providing direction, regaining hope, and establishing trust (and community ownership) of the Calaveras Educational System.

An ongoing list, a work in progress, is being compiled from the ideas and suggestions presented and discussed at the Valley Springs Bulletin Board ...

CUSD "Ugly List"

Handout from July 22nd Calaveras Unified School Board Meeting


A Work in Progress
Promoting Public Ideas ... Solutions ... Discussions

Changing the face of "Ugly" (the "Ugly List" that is)
Community-Generated Ideas/Proposals/Suggestions

In Preparation for the next (rapidly approaching--4 days away) Calaveras Unified School Board Meeting (Aug. 5th) a public and/or community list of ideas/solutions/suggestions is being generated and collected, and then posted (as updates with new information added).
I will attempt to keep track of the generated ideas and post updates on Valley Springs Bulletin Board as new ideas are discussed or presented. An ongoing "Work in Progress"
The idea is that concerned community members will not have to sort through or discuss the same ideas/questions/solutions already discussed/mentioned/brought to the table.
Basically, under a time crunch, this is an attempt to save time and energy--and to decrease frustration.

*-------Original suggestions & ideas were generated during the last CUSD board meeting (July 22, 2014) ... a limited recap is provided below.---------*

Idea/Proposal--Change all CUSD elementary schools to a K-8 configuration. A large number of school districts have changed to this configuration as a cost saving measure.

Idea/Proposal--Closure of Toyon Middle School (Creates a potential satellite campus for Delta Junior College--if leased to College District this would provide potential income for CUSD)

Suggestion--Keep cuts as far away from students (or the classroom) as possible.

Reminder--If sports and/or athletic programs are cut or removed then a large number of families will enroll their students/children/athletes into other nearby districts who continue to have sports programs (Linden, Lodi, Brett Harte)

Reminder--The Friends of Railroad Flat Elementary has been a vibrant and active community role model. The group or organization has shown how a small community can work together to handle and solve the greater number of financial issues that often plague a small, isolated, rural elementary school.

Reminder--Make sure that all stakeholders are presented with information and included in the decision making process. There is a vast wealth of knowledge and creativity living in our community.

Question (?)--If the Up-Country schools were consolidated, which elementary school would become the hub for the consolidation?

Idea/Proposal--a. Seek to cut or reduce administration first (VP's, Management, Directors) before cutting teachers (cutting teachers only leads to an increase in student to teacher ratio) --b. Maybe it's time for some admin cuts, whether that means positions or wages. --c. VSE seems to have more admin than is actually needed.

*---------Update: Weds. July 30----------*
Question (?)--How much is spent on testing and the implementation of testing? How much would be saved if we didn't waste time on a week or two of testing?

Question (?)--What about not spending the money on new Common Core curriculum. Why don't we just reuse the same curriculum from years past.

Idea/Proposal--What about books? Maybe they could not purchase new books?

Idea/Proposal--Perhaps instead of directors in sports, teachers or parents could facilitate? as volunteers.

Idea/Proposal--The Superintendent was asked about consolidating districts and he said that the other districts wouldn't go for it

*-----------Update: Thursday July 31-----------*

Question--I wonder if solar would help defray what must be huge electric bills. Maybe the district could sell back some energy. (Answer): PG&E doesn't buy back energy from their customers...just saying because I have a solar system on my house and as of right now they don't have that option.

Idea/Proposal--Maybe it's asking that parents pay a fee for kids to play sports or be in music programs?

Idea/Proposal--Maybe it's ensuring the classrooms aren't at 65 degrees every day to save on energy costs.

Idea/Proposal--Maybe it's asking for businesses to donate to support programs.

Idea/Proposal--West Point School has a great facility! The building isn't in desperate need of repair. Our kids wouldn't have to spend hours a day on a bus. Combing West Point and Rail Road Flat would benefit both community's! Losing both local schools would cause many issues. A few of which, home prices would fall, people would move their kids away, homes would sit empty because nobody would move to a neighboring towns without a school. Businesses here would close. The economical impact would create a ghost town in two community's.

Idea/Proposal--(related to above proposal) Moke Hill could easily be bused to San Andreas!

*-----------------Updated Aug. 4, 2014--------------*
Idea/Proposal--Reduce Administration: the Admin position of Chief Technology Officer is no longer justifiable. The CUSD Technology Department operated without a $100K(+) director or "Chief" for a number of years.

Suggestion--Consider holding the Aug. 5th meeting in the Toyon Multipurpose Room--with a sound system. The amount of people and possible turnout has the potential to outsize the proposed meeting place (2nd floor large green bldg)--the number of concerned groups of people warrants respect: RRF/WPE Community, Sports Community, Music & Band Community, Teachers Union, Support Staff/CSEA Union, concerned tax-payers, and concerned Parents.

Idea/Proposal--CUSD Trustees Should Refuse Their Benefits.
Calaveras Enterprise, Opinion Page, Aug. 1, 2014
By Kyle Harvey,
CSEA Representative

Question(s)--1. Can the deficit gap be bridged by cutting and trimming the current budget? There is concern that no matter how much the CUSD community cuts (severe community-changing cuts) the gap will not be reached and a loan from the state will have to be accepted. 2. Is the current board and leadership skilled enough to make the necessary cuts and adjustments to right the CUSD fiscal and budgetary ship. A vote of "No Confidence" has already been put forward (voiced) by union groups.

Idea/Proposal--Community Fundraisers and Benefit Activities: to support classroom activities, themes, and enrichment. (Basic supplies should still be provided by the school district)

Idea/Proposal--Community involvement in the classroom (as is mandated or promoted in family-generated charter schools.

Idea/Proposal--Continue to seek ways to keep cuts away from children/classrooms--keep classroom teacher to student ratio as low as possible. Look more to cuts in administration and structural shifts and changes (ie; shift to K-8 schools and consolidation of elementary schools--RRF & WPE).


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