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Letter: An open letter to residents of San Joaquin County

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Posted: Friday, April 18, 2014 11:10 pm

We’re the chief business officers of your local school districts in San Joaquin County. We write this letter today to let our voices be heard regarding a proposal by Superintendent of Schools Candidate Jeff Tilton.

In a Stockton Record article dated March 15, 2014, Mr. Tilton states he wants to eliminate the position of deputy superintendent of business services for the San Joaquin County Office of Education. We wish Tilton would’ve asked for our input before making such a promise, especially since we are the ones he claims he is attempting to help.

Tilton’s proposal is nothing short of reckless and shows little foresight or actual knowledge of the relationship between the local school districts and the county Office of Education. For over 20 years, our districts have enjoyed superb support and service from our San Joaquin County Office of Education business office. Our SJCOE Business Services Division helps all of our districts to operate more efficiently and lower our operating costs by providing a high level of expertise that helps us to get our complex work done without each district “recreating the wheel.”

Our county office supports the work that we do by providing us with expert guidance in the areas of finance, budget, payroll and all related business functions. For example, they led our recent payroll and financial system conversion and saved our staffs hundreds of hours of labor. They efficiently respond on our behalf to the numerous public records requests for employee salary data that our districts receive.

During the past five years of the “Great Recession,” our county office business services provided essential support and guidance as our districts struggled with massive budget cuts. All of the districts in San Joaquin County weathered this financial storm, while many districts in other counties didn’t.

For Tilton to suggest depriving our districts of this level of county office support reflects a troubling lack of understanding of the interdependency between local school districts and our county Office of Education business office.

Tilton doesn’t seem to understand that as we enter into the era of a new school funding model, the role of the county office will be increased, not decreased. It will be the county office’s statutory responsibility to review and approve not only the districts’ budgets, but now their Local Control Accountability Plans as well.

The taxpayers of San Joaquin County are not well served by Tilton’s promises to reduce costs. A strong county Office of Education business office is a good investment for our local taxpayers.

Kelly Robinson, Escalon Unified School District

Mindy Maxedon, Jefferson School District

Alvina Keyser, Lammersville Unified School District

Rebecca Hall, Lincoln Unified School District

Corey Reihl, Linden Unified School District

Tim Hern, Lodi Unified School District

Jaqueline Breitenbucher, Manteca Unified School District

Terry Shebelut, Oak View School District

Clarice Luis, Ripon Unified School District

Michele Huntoon, Stockton Unified School District

Casey Goodall, Tracy Unified School District

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