Big Bear, CA, February 2, 2012, 12noon: At last night’s regular board meeting of the Bear Valley Unified School District Board of Trustees, during the public comment section of the meeting several parents spoke on behalf of dismissed Middle School aide, Ken O’Hare. The distressed speakers outlined Mr. O’Hare’s dedication to students and their potential to protest his firing that occurred earlier during closed session. It is unclear as the reason for Mr. O’Hare’s dismissal but speakers made reference to an inappropriate text message. The District Board and administration does not publicly comment on employee personnel issues and his dismissal, and reason for it, was not made public by the District. Fifty or so community members and district staff attended the meeting at the Middle School seemingly primarily for information about the District’s financial status and potential upcoming Parcel Tax. The Board adopted a resolution against the elimination of home-to-school transportation and Special Education transportation funding citing harm to low-income students in rural California for disproportionate program and service reductions compared to all other students in this state. Additionally, the resolution urges our politicians to reverse the State Budget action in regards to cutting transportation funding. A presentation of the Parcel Tax parameters was to be outlined last night by consultant Charles Heath of TBWB Strategies, however, Mr. Heath was unable to attend and the item was pulled from the agenda in closed session. There was much discussion about the budget crisis and as Walter Con, Director of Business Services, stated that budget information is changing quickly but it is predicted that the school financial outlook for the State of California will not improve until 2016 or later. A few community members spoke on behalf of a Parcel Tax with opinions from both extremes being represented. Erwin Lake resident, Michael Perry, indicated that he believes what the politicians are doing to our children’s education is criminal. He spoke in support of a Parcel Tax where we could spend the money directly for our students and the only question left being how much money is needed. Mr. Perry believes that a Parcel Tax will pass if it is explained adequately to our residents. He informed the Board not to be afraid to get the bad news out as soon as possible and don’t sugarcoat it. Conversely, Joseph Cottrell of Big Bear City, followed with his statements that he has paid his taxes to Sacramento and if the Board wants his money, that’s where they should go to get it. Lastly, Big Bear Lake resident, Linda Ricchiuti, spoke stating that the Board needs to think hard before going down this road because there is no going back. Following, Superintendent Kurt Madden, outlined what needs to be done next in regards to the Parcel Tax including a feasibility study, organizing community support and getting people out to vote. The procedural timeline to implement a parcel tax brings us to approximately June 21st, or later, for the Parcel Tax vote. Details such as how much money is needed was discussed at length as Board Trustee, Paul Zamoyta, outlined a financial comparison of how much the tax would need to be to take our District to the top or to just be average compared to other districts. Current discussions have indicated that the tax may be in the $50 or $60 range in order to ensure a successful vote. A $50 tax would provide approximately $1.5 million dollars in revenue to our schools. But as Mr. Zamoyta stated, he isn’t advocating a high tax but that the public can’t expect a “Cadillac” education for that amount. Board member, Randy Putz, also stated that the Parcel Tax would give our community the opportunity to decide how important education is to them. Implementation of a Special Board Workshop for the community to continue discussion on the issue was presented and will be determined where and when tomorrow. Stay tuned to Kbear for details.
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