Dear Editor – Classified President Calls for Communication

Dear Editor,

The proposals that appeared on the cut list the Board of Education considered at their April 26th meeting were so unbelievably close to the classroom, and would have such a detrimental affect on our students, that they took my breath away. Some community members may feel that the board members always have the best interests of the students in mind, and that union presidents only have the best interests of their members in mind, but that is neither a true nor fair statement. We know how hurtful the elimination of our positions would be to the students in our district and we are trying to work with the board to avoid doing anything that would result in a negative impact on our students.

All of us should be working together to find solutions during this crisis and this sentiment was echoed by a few of our board members. Yet, I question exactly what that means when everyone says that, but there is no follow-through. A more significant, honest exchange of information than what is able to take place at a school board meeting needs to take place as soon as possible.

This is not, nor should it be, a credibility contest between the unions and the board, with everyone writing their opinions to the papers (like I’m doing now), because the end result of never sitting down with each other to have an open dialogue is a rift that keeps widening. We may have differing perspectives on certain issues, but I’m sure that if we actually communicated with each other directly, we would find many areas on which we could agree.

That doesn’t mean that the unions should automatically agree to tiered salary cuts or furlough days without asking the administration to investigate other ways to cut costs. I think that is a reasonable expectation and we believe there are areas of the budget that can be significantly pared down, enabling us to avoid such drastic cuts to teachers and support staff.

I am also concerned about the process used to assemble the current cut list. It appears to have been created in a vacuum–no one I’ve spoken to seems to have had any direct input into crafting it. When it comes to composing cut lists, our input would also be valuable. We know the scope of what we do every day, and we want to share that information with the board. Just because the information is coming from the unions, doesn’t mean it should be discounted or demeaned.

I would like to see school board members speak to a variety of stakeholders before deciding on important issues, and cuts that affect our students are important issues. The recent budget meetings were a first step, but how many of those community or union suggestions were taken into consideration? Few, if any.

I urge the board to reach out to the employees that appear on this, or any future cut list, to ask them what it is they do each day, how it is important to the students they serve, and what the ramifications will be of the elimination of their positions and the services they provide.

Making cuts blindly does not serve the students of this district well. That is why I asked the board Tuesday night to avoid cutting any positions until we can investigate—together–other ways to solve this crisis.

Sincerely,

Debbie Hamme
President
Association of Classified Employees–Culver City

www.culvercitysymphony.org

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