In California we have Initiative, Referendum, and Recall which are the tools that citizens may use to make changes in the laws when elected officials fail to meet the needs or desires of the citizens. Petitions are the means by which the citizens begin these different processes.
During the past few weeks we have been learning more and more about the finances in the Yosemite Unified School District and we have been informed that the district is nearing the point of insolvency.
That would dictate that the State Department of Education would be empowered to take over the day to day operations of Yosemite High School and Coarsegold and Rivergold elementary schools until the problem is resolved. I have been a public school educator for 38 years and an administrator since 2003 and I share with you that we don’t want that fate to befall YUSD. In a few words it means all local control is gone.
This budget mess did not surprise the administration, the board of trustees, or the state. School districts are required by law to project their budgets three years in advance. This allows for planning, reviews, and financial adjustments. Certain reserve dollars must be maintained and districts must operate without deficit spending. Loans and bonds are permitted for expansion of facilities but not for day to day operations.
Over the past few years, the YUSD board has been very aware of the impending problem and they have either been lied to by school administration or they have ignored the warning signs of the crisis. We elect people to represent our interests as citizens and taxpayers and then we need only to hold those elected officials accountable for their actions.
The current YUHS board is composed of decent, honorable, trustworthy people who devote many hours for very little in return and we need to remember their sacrifices and that they are people of integrity.
That being said, the current board has either found themselves to be the victims of many deceits by past administrators or they have failed to grasp the enormity and gravity of the financial situation at the district.
Frankly, they have let us down. They have let down the community because they failed to take the steps years ago to prevent this. Past boards and administration sold us a Bond issue which was wonderful for the school and community but the repayment details placed the district on the road to insolvency.
The board has let the district staff down as there will most assuredly be budget cuts which means no pay increases, reduction of staff, and a reduction of operating expenses for supplies, cleaning, maintenance, repairs, and professional development.
Worst of all, they let the students down. The students in this area are now faced with attending a school that will have very limited resources for a number of years to come. Sports, the arts, field trips, lab equipment, technology, access to counseling, and a myriad of other cuts will adversely affect those future Badgers.
The problem needs to be fixed and the community must get behind the school and be willing to help. However; we need to have confidence in the administration and leadership of YUSD and regrettably few of us have any at all in them.
Rather than making this community circulate petitions to begin and then endure a recall of the board, I suggest that the entire board tender their resignations effective immediately and allow for the election of a new board. After that we will need to support the district with our time, talents and treasure.
They let us down. They let the kids down. Shameful.