While the attempt to reconcile and agree on the number of furlough days being taken by the teachers, the classified employees and the administration is still at an impasse, Teacher Union representative David Mielke bemoaned the standstill. “I think the board wants a progressive structure, and so does the union. Let’s get back to the table and find some common ground.”
School Board President Steve Gourley spoke to the numbers, and added in his thoughts that even the numbers currently being used to figure the budget, the salaries and the were not stable. “We need to plan for some tiered, graduated cuts. This is a shifting paradigm. Three times, we’ve held off cutting the librarians and the nurses and we are going to have to look at what happens the next year and the next, but it’s not going to come from the figures we have now.”
The most topical item on the agenda was in regard to the out of district permits. Scott Zeidman proposed the elimination of new permits at the secondary level (high school).
Using the focus that enrollment is artificially high, Zeidman said “we started living on these permit students about ten years ago. When I graduated from Culver City High School, there were 1350 people in school. Right now, we have 2, 280 children in the school. Same campus. Same everything else. It was crowded when I was there. I can’t imagine what it is like now.”
Karlo Silbiger agreed, offering a similar point of view from his time at the Culver City Middle School. “It was crowded when I was there, and I can hardy even imagine how packed it must be with all those additional students.”
Zeidman emphasized “The only way to avoid this is to slowly, methodically reduce the number of permits.”
Zeidman suggested “a soft cap for the middle school and the high school, say about 450 students. We matriculate out of the fifth grade approximately 435 kids each year. Not all of them are going to go to on (with the CCUSD). That will allow us to bring in some permits and maintain a stable number of students each year. By doing so, for staffing purposes, we would know every year we are going to have approximately 450 students in the sixth grade, 450 in the seventh, 450 in the eighth, ninth, and so on, If we fall below that number, we can allow more students into the 11th grade.”
The proposal was lauded by board member Pat Siever as “ingenious” and will be taken to the next step after approval from the board.
The thorny issue of sibling rights for special programs found four board members in favor of granting family preference, and only one against. Dr. Patricia Siever spoke at some length about why she didn’t think it wise to give preference to siblings. She offered some suggestion for amending the policy, by clarifying the terms “sibling” and “sibling alumni” and stated that “The policy needs to be reviewed to ensure that our district is not subject to potential litigation. (This) has the appearance of policy that nurtures generational entitlement, by which a majority of families would not have access. I could not cast a vote of yes.”
In complete contrast, Gourley offered his own biography as his reason for supporting the policy. His older sister is five year his senior, meaning they could not have been at the same grade school at the same time. She is his half-sister, with only one biological parent in common. The definition of sibling alumni struck a deep chord for Gourley, hence his vote in favor of the measure. The item passed, four to one. with Zeidman, Silbiger and Katherine Paspalis voting yes with Gourley.
With so many large and challenging issues being presented to the board at every meeting, and such far-reaching solutions being offered in response to our district’s challenges, we are fortunate to have five such strong board members to support our schools.