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Stop Parent Participation

Here's the Scoop...

March 20, 2024

By Todd Maddison

We’ve seen the continuation of the defining characteristics of this district, its management, and its board. Financial mismanagement, prioritizing spending that benefits the paychecks of adults instead of kids, and actions that suppress the ability of parents and community members to let the Board know how unhappy they are with that.

Last Tuesday night, March 12, 2024, they approved a change in board meeting time, moving it from 6pm to 5pm. A continuation of their efforts to suppress public input to the maximum allowed by the Brown Act.

During Covid the board moved off-agenda comment from the beginning of meetings (where it was for decades) to the end, effectively shutting out anyone who can’t spend the time to sit through discussions they’re not interested in (sometimes for hours) to speak. Last night we saw the effects of that, more than half of the people who signed up to speak were not there by the time comment came around.

A few months ago the Board further restricted comment, cutting the time available to comment on agenda items to a fraction of what it was for decades.

At the same time the District cut off livestreaming of meetings, something that had been happening for years (and is done by almost all districts in our county). They obviously don’t want people to see what they're doing, and don't care about people who can’t be there in person.

And now we have 5pm start time, which may be more convenient for the Board and employees, but makes it even harder for people to get there from work and make their views known.

Obviously the trend is “we don’t want to listen to you and will do everything we can to avoid it.”

A number of community members spoke out about this. Our newest member, Nancy Licona, actually opposed the Board majority (thanks to her for that) and called for the agenda item to be removed. NONE of the board members even seconded the motion so they could have a vote.

Funding vs. Performance

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Student Performance

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We also saw approval of a set of bonus raises for adults in the district. Despite a the clear crises in academic performance (which is at almost it’s lowest point ever), the priority of the Board is to give adults making six figure incomes more money, not to spend that on kids.

We know parents’ priorities are usually smaller class sizes, we saw a discussion during this meeting of the fact that they were “maintaining the same class sizes”, which is not what parents want.

The same people who negotiated this deal, supposedly on behalf of our kids, stand to make tens of thousands more per year for their efforts.

Our superintendent, with a total compensation of $357,000 in 2022, stands to make around $21,000 more per year as a result. That’s an entire annual mortgage payment for many of the families of Oceanside, 60% of whom qualify for the free lunch program.

In one raise. For an administrator who has presided over the largest decrease in academic performance in our district’s history.

Mike Blessing says he feels they’ve been “working hard” and deserve it. Perhaps time to vote him out since he obviously doesn't care about improving education?

Eleanor Evans says she thinks the district is improving “one degree at a time.” Unlike employee pay, which is improving by leaps and bounds. Perhaps time to vote her out since she appears to be happy with the way things are going?

Raquel Alvarez at one point questioned whether the bonus raises approved would result in cuts from programs for our kids. The district admins at first said “no” but later admitted the cost of those raises were not included in the interim budget reporting and when the next years’ budget was prepared this spring they would look at whether cuts were needed.

Remember September 2019, when the district cut the last remaining bus service to the Latino neighborhood of Crown Heights – to save $144,000 a year – then two months later gave themselves a huge bonus raise also? Do you remember that?  Our district clearly does not have the best interests of our kids as a priority.

We have two good candidates declared for Board this year – Emily Wichmann (who formerly sat on the board for 24 years) and Rosie Higuera, a parent activist in education. Both would be infinitely better than what we’ve got now.

Are you going to vote out the people who kick sand in your face and expect you to thank them this year?

Our kids need you, now more than ever.

https://youtu.be/wphDT1zEJp8

Todd Maddison is a co-founder of the Parent Association and San Diego Schools parent advocacy groups, and the Director of Research for the Transparent California government watchdog website. He can be reached at info@sandiegoschools.net

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