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Post-Proposition 30 California

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Posted: Wednesday, April 3, 2013 12:00 am

In November, California voters approved Proposition 30 by a vote of 55 percent to 45 percent. The measure saved our school districts from having to make further cuts to an already very lean budget. If Prop. 30 had not passed, Lodi Unified stood to lose about $11 million.

What the passing of Prop. 30 did not provide was any additional funding to our schools. The projected revenue for Lodi Unified for the current year is still about $28 million less than it was five years ago.

However, it appears that we may have hit the bottom of the funding crisis. We have weathered what is hopefully the last of the cuts, and have come through financially sound. That was no small feat, and I applaud Tim Hern, LUSD chief business officer, and his staff for their work during these tough times.

Through some very innovative tactics, Lodi Unified has been able to break the cycle of layoffs that has continually plagued many other districts. We have also been able to build a reserve that serves as a buffer against future economic uncertainty. As a matter of fact, it is that reserve that will enable LUSD to bring the 2013-14 school year back to 180 days even though the state will only fund 175 days.

The Lodi Unified management team that Dr. Cathy Nichols-Washer, LUSD superintendent, has put together has been able to not only cut expenses during these tough times, but to also seek new sources of revenue. As an example, not only have we been able to cut utility costs by nearly $1 million per year, but we have actually started netting about $200,000 per year by producing and selling electricity at four of our sites.

But the biggest credit for pulling us through the financial crisis has got to go the people of Lodi Unified. We asked them to do more with less, and they responded. LUSD employees at all levels were affected by the budget cuts, but they continued to move this district forward. And yes, we have the data to prove it.

So now what?

Well, there is that old adage that anything that doesn't kill you makes you stronger, and that may be the case here. We have learned from this financial crisis. We've been forced to go through some dramatic changes at LUSD, and I believe that now we're stronger than we were before. We're leaner and more focused on our priorities. We question things more, and look at alternative methods of operation that are more cost-effective. We are better positioned to move forward as this financial crisis grinds, ever so slowly, to a halt.

The financial outlook for Lodi Unified may be slowly changing in another way as well. Gov. Brown's proposal for next year could actually send an extra $6.8 million dollars our way. Also, we may be given more flexibility on how we spend our money. There may be fewer restrictions in the coming years on education dollars. The question now becomes, "What are we going to do with any additional funding?"

There are already calls from some, and I'm sure there will be more, to take this money and restore things to the way they used to be. I think we need to be very careful here. Let's face it; things weren't so great before this financial crisis hit us. Why would we want to go back to that?

We have never been in a better position than right now to implement real change in the way that we deliver education services to our children. Before entering into long term commitments, we need to complete our strategic planning process, which we started almost two years ago.

The LUSD Strategic Plan has got to be a vision for the future of public education in our district, not a reflection of the past. It must recognize that the successful modern classroom will look much different than the model we have been using. It will be rich in technology and led by highly skilled teachers who are masters of these tools. They will have to employ the many and diverse learning strategies that garner student involvement and, therefore, student achievement.

Now is the time for us to make our move to change public education. We need to look at everything and accept nothing at face value. We need to re-evaluate the old concepts and practices that we've held on to for so long. There can be no sacred cows here.

This is what leaders do. They plan for the future. Managers run the present and try to keep things on track. Leaders look to future and develop a vision.

The question is, "What is the vision for the future of Lodi Unified?" Is it to restore things to the way they used to be? Or is it to develop a bold new way to move forward and provide our children with the tools they will need to compete in the 21st century?

Now is the time to stop and take a hard look — not at how things were, but at how things need to be. It's time we employ technology tools that can help our children learn about the modern world.

As the state superintendent's Education Technology Task Force put it, tools that can be used any time, any place, and at any pace.

We need to revamp our teaching strategies to incorporate technology, because as noted educator John Dewey once said, "If we teach today as we taught yesterday, we rob our children of tomorrow."

George Neely is a Lodi Unified School District trustee.

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Welcome to the discussion.

12 comments:

  • Patrick W Maple posted at 6:10 am on Sun, Apr 7, 2013.

    Pat Maple Posts: 1805

    Here is a simple point...someone before Bill Gates invented a way to make electricity and how to use it for mankind. Debra Crane's Engineering Program at Galt High started with one idea, one vote, one grant and one student and has produced thousands of successful students and ideas that are continually modified and improved upon...including toilets.

     
  • Patrick W Maple posted at 6:27 am on Sat, Apr 6, 2013.

    Pat Maple Posts: 1805

    Ahhh...the ignorance of youth and time...

     
  • Eric Barrow posted at 8:36 am on Fri, Apr 5, 2013.

    Eric Barrow Posts: 1534

    mrm children are studying more complex subjects at a younger age than ever, we simple know more now than during the era you long for. There really is no reality that matches your vision of some idyllic bygone era it didn't exist. It's human nature to remember the good times and forget all the problems associated with an event. Unfortunately you have wrapped yourself in this illusion and refuse to let go. As for getting credit, sorry but I was an adult when all of the breakthroughs mentioned came about (except the moon landing) so you don't get all the credit but must share it with the rest of us young whippersnappers.

     
  • Patrick W Maple posted at 7:40 am on Fri, Apr 5, 2013.

    Pat Maple Posts: 1805

    No mrt: I am not angry...they put thieves of children's lives in office instead of jail. It is a simple process...educating a child.

     
  • Jeff Tillett posted at 7:23 am on Fri, Apr 5, 2013.

    Jeff Tillett Posts: 548

    You sure are an angry man.

     
  • Patrick W Maple posted at 9:22 pm on Thu, Apr 4, 2013.

    Pat Maple Posts: 1805

    mrb: 60 years ago they were teaching those subjects in the 7th grade not in your senior year of high school. In the past they taught at higher levels with greater expectations and demands. I suppose you we're sleeping when the subjects of statistics and logic were taught.

    AND mrb...just whose generation invented, funded, built, promoted and participated in all of those ventures? Look up Dudley Buck because it certainly wasn't you. You use it we invented and built it. Back, back, back...way back to the basics, Go get elected to a school board and then give the parents a piece of your mind I sure they will listen.

     
  • Eric Barrow posted at 6:41 pm on Thu, Apr 4, 2013.

    Eric Barrow Posts: 1534

    Patrick I'm gonna assume that when your fathers 7th grade reader came out we did not have digital technologies, a mapped the human genome, satellite technology heck we hadn't been to the moon. We hadn't seen the social changes we live with today I'll bet women still couldn't vote, still want to go back?

     
  • Patrick W Maple posted at 3:57 pm on Thu, Apr 4, 2013.

    Pat Maple Posts: 1805

    "If we teach today as we taught yesterday, we rob our children of tomorrow." I am looking at my fathers 7th grade reader...they taught Physics, Biology, Chemistry and History. Not to mentiom cursive writing, spelling, reading and logic. It seems to me with that in mind and a $20 Trillion debt, we ARE robbing them of tomorrow...along with today.

    I can't tell you the number of times (from hundreds of districts and Boards) I have heard this line: "The (Name the District) Strategic Plan has got to be a vision for the future of public education in our district, not a reflection of the past." Such a profound statement (gag)!

    One final thouhgt: NOT ONE mention of HOW or an IDEA of HOW this new "implementation" will begin, start, take place, work or be named. Just more clap trap of how "we are for the kids" or "it"...taxes..."will go directly into the classrooms"...has the BS hit you in the face yet voters?

    Simon, Marty, Jim, Billy Bob...PLEASE feel free to remove this post as well, I might have offended a public official.

     
  • Kim Parigoris posted at 4:35 am on Thu, Apr 4, 2013.

    Kim Parigoris Posts: 470

    SAN FRANCISCO -- When a majority of California voters approved Proposition 30 last year, they did so under the assumption that the $6.8 billion per year generated by the temporary tax increase would go directly toward staving off cuts to schools.
    However, a recent report from the state's nonpartisan Legislative Analyst's Office found a $70 billion shortfall in state teachers' retirement plans -- and that deficit has the potential to suck up a significant amount of Prop 30 revenue.

     
  • Kim Parigoris posted at 4:30 am on Thu, Apr 4, 2013.

    Kim Parigoris Posts: 470

    I see no mention of the Common Core program here and how much that is going to cost the district. 2 million just for the infrastructure to get it started?

     
  • Doug Chaney posted at 10:47 am on Wed, Apr 3, 2013.

    advocate Posts: 502

    Mr. Barrow, LUSD is not the only entity selling power back and for a nice premium. The "big 6" employers in the Lodi area, which includes General Mills, Cottage Bakery I believe, get electricity at below cost and then sell it back at billing end for as much as 22 cents kwh. I would assume this would include LUSD? Thanks to Larry Hansen, chair of the dysfunctional board of the Northern Ca. Power Assn. and city councilman, the NCPA and their "family member" Ms. Kirkley as director of LEUD, Lodi residential users are paying one of the highest rates in the nation, if not the highest, to subsidize these entities that garner the large amounts of government city welfare checks from your illustrious leaders on city council while many Lodians struggle to pay their own utility bills, especially electric bills. Just another saga in the good old boys system dominated by the three amigos on city council and their puppets at city hall.

     
  • Eric Barrow posted at 8:26 am on Wed, Apr 3, 2013.

    Eric Barrow Posts: 1534

    Nice to hear some good news I think a lot of people and organizations have learned how to live/operate leaner since the recession. I think that's a good thing most of us needed to cut way back on our consumption. I'm glad to see the era of the hummer come to a close. I am curios has to how the LUSD is generating enough power that their able to sell electricity back to the power company?

     

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