There was a time, not too long ago, when our School Board was a board of ACTION! Years of budget cuts necessitated CCUSD to be decisive. The last such Board limited class size, tightened requirements for remaining a permit student and laid plans to finally spend dollars that sat unused for over 15 years while cutting costs and increasing test scores! Alas for those days! When there was a lack of information from which to make a decision it was demanded, provided and a decision was made.
Fast forward to our current board…we find a board of foot dragging and indecision. Led by Karlo Silbiger, accompanied by Nancy Goldberg and assisted by Patricia Stevens little to nothing has been done. Long time school board observers, of which I claim to be one, note that when issues come for a vote, unless Karlo has sponsored it, he votes to put it to committee or delay until he has more information. A smart, articulate man, it is well understood he makes his decisions based on political motivations wrapped in the mantle of open, transparent governance. Brilliant, as who can argue with open, transparent governance…unless it is to beguile the electorate, diffuse representative democracy, disregard proper stewardship and gather influence for political grooming. Don’t get me wrong, Karlo is a very smart, affable young man who is very likeable. Yet even long time school advocate Madeline Erhlich disavowed him soon after he took office! Let’s look at the two most recent incidences of his political behavior.
THE BOND. By now it is well known that Karlo orchestrated a rejection of placing a bond on the ballot claiming he did not have enough information from which to move forward. Let’s consider this. When presented, he voted to spend $28 thousand dollars of district funds to engage a consultant to investigate whether a bond would likely succeed (they concluded it would). Months went by during which he had ample opportunity to ask for information, data, plans… that he claimed he did not possess to move forward. Why? What was he doing? And then…he could not meet again until the next regularly convened school board meeting yet could attend all the sister city committee meetings and his other non-elected functions instead of meeting to hear the information he proclaimed he desired. Does anybody really doubt that had Karlo been in favor of the bond so would have Nancy?
By Back Maintenance. As the District identified that facilities were in need of greater repairs than they were capable of funding and accomplishing themselves this past summer, they researched and identified a firm that could complete maintenance and repairs who had a rich history of doing so frugally and successfully with other districts. Time being of the essence it was presented to the board for approval. Both Nancy and Patricia, independently recognized along with Laura Chardiet and Kathy Paspalis that the alternative was to allow students to return to potentially unsafe facilities. Karlo alone, voted against this claiming it should go to competitive bidding thus insuring nothing would happen for a year. Yet all the information as to the reasoning for the specific selection was open and transparent.
Most contentious of Karlo’s politically motivated inaction was the brouhaha regarding the ACE Union attempt to unionize foreign language classroom aids at El Marino Elementary School after 25 years of running their programs (a position Claudia Vizcarra clearly supported as well as she stated in multiple yahoo group emails). Rather than championing the best interests of the students, Karlo kept attempting to find a legal reason to back the union until Steve Levin (a Farrugut student parent) and other PARENTS banded together and crafted a solution embracing the whole district with Chardiet and Paspalis!
These events are just examples of how again and again over these past few years, led by Karlo and to the dismay of both Paspalis and Chardiet, this school board has delayed decisions, delayed action, left money on the table and failed to steward our district with the children at the center of concern. Let us also beware Karlo’s newest political ideologue, Claudia Vizcarra, who was quoted at the Democratic Club forum at least twice answered questions with “I agree with Karlo”. Caveat Emptor or we will have a school board only money can buy.