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Distress by the Sea

On May 13, the California Department of Education released its statewide “Academic Performance Index” (API) for all public schools. Cardiff School District ranked a ten — the top API rating — but not all is well in the two-school district.

Parents and school staff were shocked to hear the May 10 announcement that district superintendent Tom Pellegrino is resigning. Many parents believe Pellegrino asked the district’s board of trustees for something more substantial than his year-to-year contract. The board allegedly balked. Pellegrino has accepted a three-year contract with the Alpine Unified School District.

Now, teachers and parents are pitted against the school board. Some parents have pointed out that each of the members has served too long — more than two terms — and none have children attending Cardiff or Ada Harris elementary schools. Several parents’ names have been bandied about as possible candidates to oust current board members in the upcoming November election.

In February, the board ignored several applicants for an open seat and appointed perennial Democratic candidate Francine Busby in the midst of her third election bid for Congress. Busby had previously served several terms on the board and showed a willingness to make staff and budget cutbacks.

At the board meeting on May 13, 20 teachers showed up to present their union’s acceptance of temporary pay cuts and furloughs in order to avoid next year’s layoffs and classroom reassignments. Pellegrino said he had found some additional funding from increased property tax revenue, so the salary-reduction proposal was unnecessary at this time. But the board took no action to reverse the announced layoffs.

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On May 13, the California Department of Education released its statewide “Academic Performance Index” (API) for all public schools. Cardiff School District ranked a ten — the top API rating — but not all is well in the two-school district.

Parents and school staff were shocked to hear the May 10 announcement that district superintendent Tom Pellegrino is resigning. Many parents believe Pellegrino asked the district’s board of trustees for something more substantial than his year-to-year contract. The board allegedly balked. Pellegrino has accepted a three-year contract with the Alpine Unified School District.

Now, teachers and parents are pitted against the school board. Some parents have pointed out that each of the members has served too long — more than two terms — and none have children attending Cardiff or Ada Harris elementary schools. Several parents’ names have been bandied about as possible candidates to oust current board members in the upcoming November election.

In February, the board ignored several applicants for an open seat and appointed perennial Democratic candidate Francine Busby in the midst of her third election bid for Congress. Busby had previously served several terms on the board and showed a willingness to make staff and budget cutbacks.

At the board meeting on May 13, 20 teachers showed up to present their union’s acceptance of temporary pay cuts and furloughs in order to avoid next year’s layoffs and classroom reassignments. Pellegrino said he had found some additional funding from increased property tax revenue, so the salary-reduction proposal was unnecessary at this time. But the board took no action to reverse the announced layoffs.

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2

This is not at all surprising. I attended a forum with Busby and her opponent Tracy Emblem at the Lake San Marcos Democratic Club where Busby announced that she would be passing out a lot of pink slips. What is surprising is that Busby's board would go through with lay offs and salary reductions even after Pellegrino came up with the necessary funding to keep the teachers. This kind of stay the course blindness is not what we need in Congress. Lets stay the course and keep Busby out of office.

May 15, 2010

As the writer of this piece, I have to update the accuracy of the story. There is one Board member on the Cardiff School District with children in the district and she is serving her first term in office. Also at the meeting referenced, the board did take action to reinstate 1 of the 3.4 positions that were to be laid off. So that's a 29% rate of returning of laid off teachers into the classroom. Under today's budgets, not many other school district can do the same. Cardiff School Board is trying their best.

May 27, 2010

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