Dear Editor – Reality Check

Dear Editor,

Reality check time. At last night’s School Board meeting the District’s Chief Financial Officer, Mr. Ali Delawalla, clearly spelled out the dire economic future facing our school district. The State is running out of money and they are spending less and less of it on education. The picture ain’t pretty folks, in fact it is downright scary. Time and time again Ali referred to the $1.2  million a year promised to the district by the Parcel Tax aka Measure EE. That money is the only secure funding the District can count on.

There is an unintended consequence to the current controversy over the role and independence of parent-funded services. The consequence: the Parcel Tax may fail in the next election. (* Background information)

Measure EE, the Parcel Tax brings in $1.2 million each year for our schools. Through the brilliant crafting of its proponents, Scott Zeidman, and Madeline Erlich, that money is limited to teachers’ salaries; promoting math, science, technology, and art; smaller class sizes; libraries; and keeping our campuses clean, safe and well-maintained. What does that $1.2 million pay for? About 20 teacher positions OR 30 classified positions OR the equivalent of 6 furlough days for EVERYONE.

News for you, it’s coming up for renewal and it needs a 2/3 supermajority to pass. Culver City was the only district to pass a parcel tax in 2009. Can we do it again?

In the School Board elections in 2007 around 3,000 people voted. In 2011 it was around 4,000. In 2009, a whopping 6,000 people voted!

Why? Simple: EE the Parcel Tax was on the ballot. A whole bunch of us parents and community members got out there, knocked on doors, distributed fliers, made phone calls, wore shirts. We got the parents out to vote. Newsflash, the majority of parents don’t normally vote, yet WE as a community passed it.

I am truly concerned, and I am not the only one. If ACE or any other Union persists in filing grievances compromising our ability as parents and as a community to support and enhance student education… If, current or future parent-funded programs are compromised or removed from parent control…If either or both of these happen will the parents be there to work for the Parcel Tax? I am worried that disenchanted, disenfranchised parents who have worked so hard, donated what they could, volunteered countless hours to fundraise, will not work hard or support a new Parcel Tax.

In twenty short months Measure EE, the Parcel Tax comes up for renewal. Remember, that’s $1.2 million dollars a year. Is it really worth it to anyone in our district, whether they are Union members or not to risk a stable source of funding for a “clarification” of the employee status of parent-funded services at our schools?

Please find a solution to this issue quickly.

Full disclosure. I am a frequent volunteer at CCMS which my child attends. I served on the board of ALLEM for 5 years, the last 4 as VP, then President.

* Background in a nutshell, ACE (the Associated Classified Employee Union) has filled a grievance demanding that the District do “something” about the parent-funded, and parent controlled program at El Marino. What that “something” is has not been made clear since the details of the ACE actual demands have not been made public. Parents from ALL of the schools have voiced their alarm. A huge number of justifiably concerned parents have spoken, written, phoned all saying the same thing, let us parents fund raise to provide services in the form of adjuncts, aides, or assistants for our kids. Don’t do anything that requires us to hand over control over our funding and where that money goes.

Jamie Wallace

www.culvercitysymphony.org

3 Comments

  1. Jamie,

    With all due respect, if the adjuncts at El Marino do not meet the criteria for the Federally-mandated “No Child Left Behind Act,” then the school district would be in violation of Federal Law. The issue is not really about parent rights, but whether or not the adjuncts meet the federally-mandated criteria to be in the classrooms in the first place.

  2. There are six Title 1 schools in Culver City and two that are not. Neither El Marino nor Farragut Elementary are Title 1 schools. According to the California Department of Education website, “Paraprofessional Requirements for Title I Programs” http://www.cde.ca.gov/nclb/sr/tq/paraprofessionals.asp: “The NCLB requirements for paraprofessionals are required for employees in Title 1 schools.

    Another definition: “For the purposes of Title I, Part A, a paraprofessional is an employee of an LEA
    who provides instructional support in a program supported with Title I, Part A funds.”
    The adjuncts at El Marino are employees of ALLEM a 501(c)(3) and are not “an employee of an LEA” (Local Educational Agency).

    Ergo, with respect to the adjuncts at El Marino there is no “violation of federal law.”

    With respect to the qualifications of our adjuncts. A number of them have been working at the school under close supervision of a teacher for 15 to 20 years. The most recent hires were about 5 years ago, to the best of my recollection. Doesn’t working under close supervision of a teacher for over 5 years make them eminently qualified regardless of any federal mandates? The fact that most of these adjuncts are fluent in Spanish or Japanese, not English, does not make them any less capable of assisting students in acquiring the target language.

    In other words, the adjuncts are in a real sense “para-professionally” qualified whether or not they meet any federal requirements. For the past 20 plus years the students at El Marino have benefited greatly from the adjuncts’ presence in the classroom, and at the end of the day do semantic arguments over legal requirements that do not apply make them any less valuable?

  3. Jamie,

    I will admit when I am wrong; in fact, I found out my mistake before you pointed it out to me. While doing research on Title I, I also discovered that schools receive Title I funds because the students come from lower-income families.

    El Marino and Farragut are not entitled to Title I funding. People have been using the argument that they don’t receive these Federal funds, but I have not seen anyone explain why.

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