Back to school – a bummer for some, a joy for others.
Superintendent Jeffrey Felix evoked both of those emotions in a letter to the community Monday in which he noted the celebration of the new academic year, which starts Thursday, but also bemoaned the funding crisis that continues to plague schools across the state.
Schools in the have endured that Felix described as “a near fatal” series of cuts and funding deferrals since 2008.
Budget cuts of about 10 percent loom, he wrote, if Gov. Jerry Brown's ballot proposals to raise the sales tax and increase taxes on the state's highest earners fail to pass in November.
Felix issued his letter the same day Brown was stumping at San Diego City College for his education tax plan. Felix urged Coronado parents to familiarize themselves with the ballot measures.
Despite his tone, he noted that the community's schools are appreciated locally and throughout the state.
“You know — and this county and this state know — that CUSD is a quality school district,” he wrote. “In today’s political climate, a school district with a good reputation is hard to find, and yet CUSD enjoys the reputation of being a premier school district.”
Felix also said district officials are looking into creative ways to bridge the possible state funding gap.
“We will continue to investigate every possibility — and I mean every possibility — that could lead to more funding for the Coronado Unified School District,” he said.
Here's the full text of Felix's letter:
It’s great to be celebrating the new school year. We have many new teachers, support staff, and administrators joining our Coronado Unified Schools family, and we especially want to welcome these new colleagues to the Coronado community.
I know you are all eager for the teachers and kids to return to our schools, so I will keep this brief, but there are a few things important to our collective future that I need to talk about today.
You know—and this county and this state know—that CUSD is a quality school district. In today’s political climate, a school district with a good reputation is hard to find, and yet CUSD enjoys the reputation of being a premier school district. For that I thank all of you and all of our staff. It is their quality work with our students, your diligence as parents, and our supportive community members that have created this well- deserved reputation.
The challenges we face in CUSD have much more to do with state funding than with student achievement. Please know that the Board of Education, the Association of Coronado Teachers, and the Classified School Employees Association are together working very hard to resolve our district’s financial difficulties.
It is frustrating for you and difficult for me to talk to you about the quality our employees bring to this school district on the one hand while, on the other hand, knowing the financial challenges we are facing. The solutions are not easy, but I guarantee that we will continue to work hard and creatively to find long-term solutions. We will continue to investigate every possibility—and I mean every possibility—that could lead to more funding for the Coronado Unified School District.
I encourage each of you to become familiar with a variety of election issues, including Propositions 30 and 38 that are scheduled for the November ballot. Money raised by the measure through higher sales taxes and a surcharge levy on highest earners would be mostly used to prevent cuts in schools. With funding cuts and deferrals of over 60% since 2008, our district has sustained a near-fatal long-term loss of funds that still remains. Additional midyear revenue cuts averaging close to 10% will occur if the Governor's tax measure fails.
You are a terrific community of dedicated parents and professionals, and it is my pleasure to represent our staff and the work they do with the children in this community and in the state. Let’s all have a great year working and collaborating together!