As I enter the last few months of my campaign for a seat on the San Diego Unified school board I am struck by the kind of poor leadership and fiscal mismanagement that still is the norm at the district. The latest fiasco is Proposition Z. I know we need to fix the infrastructure (the current Proposition S bond revenue is not sufficient to meet the current construction schedule for all the projects in the district. The district needs the Prop. Z bond to make up for the lost in bond revenue). So when I saw the response from the current president (and interesting, no other board members talking about the bond), I wonder if they are all feeling a little bit embarrassed about how they went about “kicking the can down the road.”
The need for reform starting with the board is critical. The last eight years has been controlled by special interest and those who don’t really want to fix the problem. They like schools in my district being in program review for 11 years. They like the fact that we can’t keep good teachers in the district and those who do stay are becoming more cynical. They like feeling that all they need to do is to find anyone who will go along with this mess and get them elected to continue the slow but steady slide toward insolvency. Yes, the district is still not out of woods folks, ask them about the 2013-14 deficit.
So what to do? Well, first elect folks who understand both the issues and solutions which will not be easy fixes. Second, require that any fiscal decisions be open and transparent with board meetings focused on bond measures, budgetary issues and revenue issues. Third, demand that if the superintendent and others say they don’t have a “financial plan” then it’s time that they seek employment someplace else. Our children deserve the best. No, “I don’t have a plan” just doesn’t cut it any longer. So as November nears ask yourself this question, “Does business as usual sound good to you?”
William Ponder is a resident southeastern San Diego and a candidate for San Diego Unified school board in Sub-District E.
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