(Note: this is a follow up email to Principal Cahoon’s message last weekend regarding the same topic)
Are you concerned about the short or long-term financial health of the district? I am -- I have been ever since my 4th grader entered Kindergarten, and that's why I participate on the board of SchoolForce.
And it's why I believe you should attend the Town Hall meeting tomorrow (Tuesday) being hosted by the district, entitled "Parent Town Hall: Facing Budget Uncertainty in BRSSD" (this is a repeat performance of the town hall that was hosted at Cipriani last week – if you attended that one, there is no need to attend at Sandpiper):
November 7, Sandpiper School, 7:00 - 8:00 PM (801 Redwood Shores Parkway, Redwood City)
We live in a great area and our school district has a tremendous reputation for providing a quality education -- so why the 'uncertainty' and why am I concerned? Because the financials behind public education in California are complicated at best, and the end result is that we receive less money per student from the State than any other K-8 district in the county. 17th out of 17. Add in local funding, and our total revenue allows us to climb only to 14th out of 17, still $800 per student or so below the average California K-8 district.
The board has done a great job of doing more with less, especially when it comes to attracting amazing teachers to our area. But at some point money (or the lack thereof) does become restrictive and tough choices have to be made. For example, our school library is open every other week -- that's not a decision fueled by a desire to get our kids to read less, it's strictly a compromise that had to be made based on a financial reality. And while we can debate forever about which programs are more/most important, the sobering fact is that unless we can boost revenue to help match the growth that we've seen over the last few years in the district, the conversation won't be about which programs to fund more completely, but rather which programs we can afford to cut. I for one can't think of a single program the district funds that wouldn't hurt a significant percentage of the population if we had to live without it.
So please attend the meeting -- bring your curiosity and your questions, and leave with a better understanding of what we all need to do in order to keep the quality of education in Belmont Redwood Shores School District at the level that our kids deserve. If we can all acknowledge that the problem exists and educate ourselves on why, then we can commit as a community to being part of the solution (and the only thing that we know for certain is that the solution absolutely will require participation from the entire community).