The Davis school board heard from various parents and teachers on Thursday night who urged them to restore programs that have been trimmed during the past few years due to the state budget crisis, or that face the possibility of changes soon.
But Associate Superintendent Bruce Colby reminded the trustees that even though California voters approved Proposition 30 in November, and Davis voters OK’d the Measure E school parcel tax, the district doesn’t have any new money yet to apply toward restoring programs.
“Prop. 30 didn’t bring any new money to the Davis district,” Colby said. “(The state) has stopped cutting us and will start paying us on time. But there’s not any new money. It just stopped us from bleeding more.”
Colby also warned that the governor’s proposed “local control” funding plan for education — targeting additional funds for districts serving large numbers of students who are English learners, or who come from low-income households — will “not be the greatest thing for Davis,” because the district doesn’t have high concentrations of such students.
Even so, the general perception that things are looking up for California’s economy prompted multiple speakers to urge trustees to prepare to boost the district’s spending in some areas, or sustain a program that they viewed as vulnerable.
Frank Thomsen, president of the Davis Teachers Association, reminded the board that for “nearly a decade,” teachers have seen “no (cost-of-living) increase at all, while at the same time our wages have been eaten away by inflation and health care costs as our workloads have increased” due to larger class sizes.
Shelly Gilbride, a parent at Birch Lane Elementary, said she’d collected more than 300 signatures on a petition urging the school board to reduce class sizes, “especially in grades K-3.”
Jeanne Reeve, a teacher at Holmes Junior High, warned that moving the district’s ninth-graders onto the high school campus — an idea that at least three school board trustees are interested in exploring — “would not be in the best interest of our students.” Reeve said ninth-graders are better off in junior high schools that offer “smaller learning communities” as compared to Davis High.
Kathy Bryant, another Holmes teacher, spoke up for the district’s GATE classes, which some in the community have criticized.
“I watch these students in a class that was made for them, I don’t see them bullied by other students, I see young women able to express intelligence without fear,” Bryant said. “GATE is where they feel safe and protected and they can grow.”
And several speakers urged the trustees to continue offering five world languages — Spanish, Chinese, Japanese, German and French. But trustees Nancy Peterson and Susan Lovenburg expressed doubt that the district can sustain five languages.
No action was taken on any of these topics on Thursday night. Action on the world language issue could come at the Feb. 7 school board meeting.
— Reach Jeff Hudson at firstname.lastname@example.org or 530-747-8055.