Saturday, April 10, 2010

Why the change in vote?

Wow- what a response. I'm grateful for those who took the time to provide thoughtful comments and ask important questions about my most recent post. Our budget situation is complex. If we engage in serious dialogue, and are willing to consider new ideas, we can hopefully find a way to both address the ongoing (annual) deficits and also ensure that we have a district that continues to both attract and retain excellent teachers, and helps our teachers know that they are valued in many ways.

Several people posted questions or emailed me asking how I voted in closed session and how that related to my open session vote. I'm happy to share my thinking on both votes.

In closed session, I voted for the contract, but I expressed serious reservations. The information we had then was pretty similar to what we have now, but I've also grown accustomed to watching our forecasts swing pretty substantially over time. The closed session vote was 4-1 in favor of the contract.

Fast forward 6 weeks. In that time, the news has gotten no better, and it's becoming increasingly clear that when the State of CA revises our budget forecast in May, it won't be a positive change. Also, in the interim I've attended Budget Review Committee meetings, closed study sessions, and spent considerable time talking to CACF members, administration, and community leaders. My thinking had shifted from "can we afford this next year?" to "can we afford this year over year?" I also heard from a number of parents and community members that they wanted to see some concrete movement to change the district finances so that we don't keep repeating this cycle. One parent described it as "panic fatigue". That is, every year we cut, so we raise the alarm, do what we can, and still have to cut.

Where we go from here isn't yet clear. We have a closed study session on April 19 to discuss this issue, and an open session on April 26th. I'll see what I learn at those meetings. I also continue to hear from parents and community members on my email, on the blog, and in person. Keep those ideas coming.

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