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Future school sites = fiscal mismanagement

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POSTED September 19, 2009 2:07 a.m.
Did you know the Manteca Unified School District has five parcels of property for future school sites?  If the district does not develop the properties within a few years, it pays a penalty to the state for removing the property from the property tax stream. So, what are we doing?  We are placing a bench on the properties and calling it a roadside rest stop which is considered developing the property.  

Buying property for school sites that we don’t need and then finding a loophole to avoid paying a penalty on it is a complete betrayal of the taxpayers’ trust.  Yes, that’s great that we aren’t paying nearly $300,000 in state penalties for not building these future schools as quickly as we had agreed to.  But, that’s yet another indication of fiscal mismanagement.

The school district hopes that STAR scores will go down next year, so that the lowered scores can be blamed on the budget woes, and not their actions.  In a June 4 Manteca Bulletin article, Superintendent Jason Messer stated, “We are going to educate children in Manteca for less money,” Messer said. “It will have a negative impact on student achievement."  However, STAR scores increased tremendously last year, especially in elementary math, despite the school district threatening teachers with layoffs if they didn’t take a pay cut.  The teachers still came through and student achievement rose.  When Superintendent Messer says we will “survive and thrive”, teachers already know that.  We take care of our business, teaching the kids, no matter what comes along.

Why is the district certain that scores will decrease? Number one, class size reduction has been eliminated.  Secondly, they have moved so many teachers around, not only from school to school, but from grade level to grade level.  For example, we have kindergarten teachers transferred to sixth grade, and a sixth grade teacher transferred to kindergarten at the same school!  These actions, seemingly to punish the teachers because they don’t make any sense otherwise, has already reduced morale in the teaching ranks.  Not only that, you will have people unfamiliar with the curriculum, unfamiliar with the students at the new school, and unfamiliar with the grade level.  Conversely, the parents and students will be unfamiliar with these teachers.  The point is, these personnel changes affect the kids.  And, they didn’t need to be made.

Do you believe that kids come before cash?  If so, I ask you to stand up for our schools.  What can you do?  Go to www.mantecateachers.com and click the link that says Stand Up for Schools.  You will be taken to a new page so we can organize everyone that wants to be involved in Standing up for Schools.
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