Given the challenges of cuts to public education, Bear Valley Unified School District is looking at ways to keep important programs in place while also maintaining teaching positions. According to the district’s Superintendent Dr. Nancy Wright, “The bottom line is our community expects a comprehensive education for our kids, and our students deserve it. Our challenge is with the major reductions coming from the state level.”
Prior to Proposition 13’s passing in 1978, California ranked in the country’s top five for educational spending though, at present, our state now ranks 46th in spending on schools, per a report from BVUSD’s Director of Business Services Walter Con. This translates to BVUSD as, per Dr. Wright, “Fourteen-and-a-half billion is being eliminated from K-12 education and, with those kinds of reductions, it is causing every school district to have to make very painful cuts. It will diminish our educational services and it will eliminate positions. I’m really grateful for the members of our Board of Trustees, because they have closely followed and monitored the state budget and subsequent effects for our school district.” In November of 2009, the Board, which includes Beverly Grabe, Ken Turney, Debra Sarkisian, Randy Putz and Paul Zamoyta, approved nearly $1.5 million in cuts for BVUSD, while also recognizing that the district will be spending down nearly $4.4 million in reserves through school year 2012.
“We are now at the point,” Wright tells KBHR, “where we need some input from our community. We want to maintain small class sizes. We want to continue to emphasize and improve reading, math and science skills in all grades. We want to prevent teacher layoffs and continue to provide our teachers with training programs, and expand and provide more computer and technology instruction. We also want to maintain library services, and music, art and performing arts programs, as well as our transportation program. We need to maintain school counseling, including support for our students at risk of failure and dropping out and, in addition, it is important for us to provide career development and job training programs for our high school students, because they need to be a skilled work force and have job training opportunities in the community.”
Given these important programs and less state funding to provide for them, the school district is seeking input from the community, as well as encouraging student attendance, which results in improved learning as well as ADA funding (which amounts to $33.88 per student per day). “Now,” Wright says, “because our district has lost approximately $3.5 million, or about 15% in funding over a period of the last two years, we need some input from our community as we take a look at the budget and what our priorities need to be. So the Board of Trustees is working with a company that will be conducting a feasibility study to provide the school district feedback from our community.”
Parents and community members are encouraged to participate in school board meetings, which take place on the first and third Wednesdays of the month (including this evening at 6:30pm at BBHS); board agendas are posted on the BVUSD website and are also available from the school district offices on Moonridge Road. The future of BVUSD schools will be a community effort and, adds Wright, “Our kids are worth it.”