Once again I must take issue with Bill Bauer’s assessment of the Santa Monica Board of Education (“Same old school board?” page 4, Oct. 6) and his second negative reference to John Deasy (apparently, something about Deasy just doesn’t sit well with Mr. Bauer). All I’ll say about Mr. Bauer’s disdain for John Deasy is that a lot of people including myself completely disagree with Mr. Bauer.
And, although I do not agree with every micro decision or board policy, I do believe that the board has shown a genuine intent to try to do what they believe is best for the school system and the taxpayers. That is more than can be said about most politicians today. Being on the board or City Council is a thankless, time-consuming, and difficult job; even if we disagree with certain decisions, let’s give some credit to all of these people who work so hard for all of us.
Recently, I attended the Monday night forum for both the school board and City Council candidates.
Afterwards, I spoke with Jose Escarce and found him to be thoughtful, concerned, and extremely intelligent. The following week I met with Kelly Pye to express some concerns of mine regarding certain issues which I will discuss below. I found Kelly also to be thoughtful and responsive to my concerns and she outlined some very positive strategic plans that the board is trying to implement (e.g., STEM at Will Rogers, remedial reading intervention). Both Jose and Kelly are district parents and, presumably, care a great deal about the schools their own children attend.
Regarding teachers’ pay raises and those for other district employees, over the years, the salary increases have been well in line with those in the immediately surrounding school districts. Perhaps if Mr. Bauer zeroed in on, and was more concerned with, undo CEO salaries (which are essentially fraudulent conveyances made with the blessing of board of directors), the country wouldn’t be where it is today. Why does someone always pick on the hard-working person who shows up to do an honest days work?
The issues that I am particularly concerned with as a district parent, homeowner, and taxpayer are: school safety, out-of-district permits, special education, Samohi a.m. classes, and traffic (drop-off and pick-up) at Samohi. The [Thomas] Beltran incident at Lincoln [Middle School] is a tragedy; there’s no question about it and we all feel for those families involved.
Sometimes, even with strong oversight, bad things happen. I don’t know the whole story so I can only say my daughter spent three wonderful years at Lincoln (academically and socially), fortunately, without major incidents. I believe the board is pro-actively addressing this issue so it never happens again.
Regarding out-of-district permits, I support permits for city employee, school district employee, and SMC families. I also understand the board position that a certain level of permits contributes added revenues for budget management. Although I would prefer no permits other than for the categories mentioned, I understand the benefit of the added revenues.
However, in these difficult economic times, I have a suggestion to bring in new additional revenues. Currently, Santa Monica families are treated unequally relative to out-of-district families. Families in Santa Monica have to pay Measure RR and the BB bond interest.
Is it unreasonable to expect that out-of-district families should be asked to support the school district to the same extent that residents do? I calculate based on the 1,200 or so permits that an additional $500,000 per year would be brought into the district if all out-of-district families were asked to make the same contribution as district families.
I also do not believe that permits should be used to attain diversity in the schools as Maria Leon-Vazquez explicitly stated in the candidates forum. Santa Monica is already a very diverse community and using permits for this purpose is not only inappropriate but possibly unlawful.
Special ed is a thorny and difficult issue. The families of special ed children need to be treated fairly, but the taxpayers also need to be treated fairly.
Again, I believe both the board and City Council appear to be taking a proactive approach to implementing a better structure. I will not discuss the other issues I mention since those are micro problems specific to Samohi.
Santa Monica has excellent public schools strongly supported by the taxpayers. The community advantages of a strong school system have been detailed in endless reports, both local and national. I hope everyone continues to strive for and support excellence in our schools.
Brad Pollack is a parent, taxpayer, homeowner and business owner living in Santa Monica.