OPINION: Budget cuts need community input


By Light staff

That old Billy Ocean song “When the going gets tough, the tough get going,” could well be the theme song for San Diego’s public schools this year.

Superintendent Bill Kowba has said, to no one’s surprise, that the district faces a continuing budget crisis that isn’t likely to go away soon. That’s prompted a ballot measure that would impose a $98 annual parcel tax on each house within the boundaries of the San Diego Unified School District, $60 on each unit of multifamily housing and $450 on commercial and industrial properties. The tax would raise an estimated $50 million for the district, which faces a projected $141.6 million shortfall for the 2011-12 fiscal year.

But even that won’t fix the problem, Kowba said.

A lot of people are looking for a solution: MSNBC last week put the spotlight on “Education Nation,” the film “Waiting for Superman” looks at education reform efforts, and local residents this week had a chance to see “Race to Nowhere: The Dark Side of America’s Achievement Culture,” a film examining the competitive pressures on our youth.

In La Jolla, our students are lucky because the community is filled with dedicated people willing to invest time and money to help fill the gap in the classrooms as well as for music, arts, technology and athletic programs. Each of our schools has its own foundation, which have become a model for other schools. Each has a cadre of volunteers, from room parents to seniors who read in the classrooms, who pitch in as well.

And we can’t forget the teachers. Whether we believe in how our system works or not, without them, we’re nowhere.

And with the La Jolla Cluster Association, which came together less than a year ago, ramping up its “to promote and support excellence” by bringing together staff, faculty, administrators and parents from all five schools, the community should gain some solidarity in the face of more prospective cuts.

Tonight at 6:30 p.m. at University City High School, the district will host a town hall, led by our new area superintendent Mike Price, on student achievement and budget issues. The meeting - one of many being held throughout the district - will give parents and residents a chance to meet senior district staff and Price.

We expect La Jolla and University City parents to show up in force for these meetings. It’s a chance to speak up and let Price and board members know we care about education, not just for La Jolla students, but also for those throughout the district.

Cuts are coming. Let’s just not let them be made without our input. If we don’t get out there and do our part - as volunteers or just as parents letting our school leaders know we care - we might as well throw in the towel on our children and their education.