La Jolla Cluster group urges Kowba to seek post

As La Jolla school principals attempt to deal with budget cuts affecting programs for the rest of this year, members of the La Jolla Cluster Association are pitching in to see what they can do to stave off the reductions.

In addition, several representatives met last week with interim school superintendent Bill Kowba to encourage him to seek the post permanently.

He sat down with Linda Dowley, Fran Ship and Alison Lee last week, Lee, a Muirlands Middle School representative, wrote in an e-mail Monday.

“We had a wonderful wide-ranging conversation about his tenure with the district, his thought process about taking on the job permanently, and his vision for the district going forward,” she wrote, adding that he has shown his ability to “manage a complex organization” faced with “powerful unions, diminishing budgets and ever-changing educational standards.”

She said the group recognizes that the search process has already started, but is hopeful that Kowba will throw his hat in the ring and get serious consideration.

Meanwhile, cluster representative Sharon Jones said last week that in the past the district has been amenable to adjusting cuts for schools that do not receive funding for low-income students and other special programs.

When a 5 percent cut was made in prior years, it was lowered to 3 percent for those that don’t get what’s known as “categorical” funds, she noted.

With that in mind the group sent a letter to district officials urging that a similar change be made with the current cuts, which stand to eliminate instructional support for “children who are struggling,” she said. They urged officials to talk to principals about how the cuts are affecting individual schools.

Professional development, textbooks and supplies are “just gone,” so they’re directing their efforts at cuts affecting such things as literacy and math aides, English Language Learning and gifted programs.