A word to SV education leaders

Here’s a word of advice to South Valley’s education leaders as
they prepare to make cuts forced upon them by the state’s
$34-billion budget emergency: Don’t follow Sacramento’s lead.
Here’s a word of advice to South Valley’s education leaders as they prepare to make cuts forced upon them by the state’s $34-billion budget emergency: Don’t follow Sacramento’s lead.

California’s governor and state legislators, facing an ocean of red ink, haven’t looked at themselves as sources of savings.

Gov. Davis, for example, hasn’t offered to cut his staff or trim their perks.

Then, there’s this beautiful story of leading by example: Two newly elected members of the Board of Equalization – the state’s tax collection agency – who are both former Assembly members, have ordered luxury vehicles at the state’s expense. A Sacramento TV station reports that Republican Bill Leonard of San Bernadino has ordered a 2003 Ford Expedition Eddie Bauer edition, including a $2,000 in-dash navigation system, for a taxpayer-footed tab of $47,000. Democrat Carole Midgen of San Francisco is asking that we pick up the bill for a $41,000 2003 Cadillac CTS that includes more than $8,000 in options, according to KCRA.

Apparently, our Sacramento leaders think it’s better to cut hot meal programs for the elderly, slash education budgets and deny the poor needed health care than to feel any budget-related pain themselves.

It’s a shameful way to lead in this time of economic crisis.

The superintendent of Gilroy Unified School District, Edwin Diaz, and the incoming president of Gavilan Community College, Steve Kinsella, should set a better example.

Administrators should scour the budget for unnecessary administrative expenses. Cuts should be kept as far away from South Valley classrooms as possible.

Whatever administrative cuts are made should be held up as an example that the top-level employees are willing to share the pain.

Beyond that, we believe school board members should give serious consideration to across-the-board pay cuts for administrators, union employees should be flexible at the negotiating table, and teaching staff should be immune from layoffs. It’s going to take some creativity and lots of volunteer help, but it’s imperative that the education of our children is impacted as little as possible.

When possible, the districts should look to build on the tradition of parent volunteerism, which is strongest at the elementary school level. Could parent volunteers help replace some of the work done by support staff? Parents aren’t the only source of volunteers. Service groups – Leadership Gilroy and Leadership Morgan Hill, the AAUW, Rotary and Kiwani clubs, for example – could also establish school volunteer programs to help.

School district leaders must take a close look at the workflow of support staff and administrators to find ways to be more productive, which is exactly what businesses in the private sector do when they are facing a revenue shortfall.

As the state budget crisis becomes real and painful, the mission of South Valley’s schools – well-educated students – must not be compromised.

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