1. One of the key points in building a relationship is listening
Listening. In any human communication that’s one of the keys. Really hearing the message takes some work, and it’s unfortunate that Gilroy City Council members apparently aren’t even willing to listen to trustees at the Gilroy Unified School District.
Mind you, a 1 percent local Gilroy sales tax hike that would raise $11.5 million annually to support the school district might not be the best – or even a viable – solution. But the City Council should not only listen to the pleas from GUSD Trustees, Councilmembers should understand that a crushing financial issue for the schools is a serious COMMUNITY ISSUE. There’s no place for turf wars in this discussion. What happens in our schools impacts this entire community.
2. What’s the first thing most people look at in a community
What’s the first thing most people look for when considering moving to an area? School performance. Who’s our largest employer? The Gilroy Unified School District. Which agency prepares our children for the job market? Our public schools. And on it goes. From graffiti issues to public safety to job preparedness, the schools count.
That said, the Council should not bend to the guilt-ridden “it’s for the children” mindset that so often polarizes debates involving an increased tax burden. But Council members should at least be willing to keep the lines of communication open, and residents should expect that our elected city officials would have some ideas to offer.
3. Are there alternative solutions, like sharing the utility tax?
Remember, GUSD has sliced $18 million from its budget over the last four years and is staring a possible $6.9 million annual cut directly in the face.
The Council should listen. This isn’t just a hard-luck story, it’s a crisis.
It’s also – potentially – an opportunity to improve on and build future relations. But that takes leadership, of course.
If nothing else, the Council should recognize that school funding in California faces a core problem – the state budget whims and roller coaster funding. The Council can make an effort to weigh in on the problem.
Perhaps, there are other solutions. Increasing or sharing the utility tax might be one. Helping to fund less expensive charter schools might be another. Asking the Valley Transportation Authority to consider bus routes that would alleviate transportation costs.
The point is it’s a community problem and our elected city officials should listen to their fellow elected school leaders. That’s what leadership is all about. That’s what Gilroy should be all about.