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Board needs to revisit Level 3 cuts
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Editor, Manteca Bulletin,
Many questions have come up as the district negotiations continue that should be addressed.

First of all, how can a blanket proposal of not allowing a class of less than 30 enrolled students to be taught even be considered? I am not sure if the ramifications of what that does to high school courses are fully understood. A proposal like this would immediately throw advanced placement/honors courses into jeopardy. The very nature of such courses determines that the majority of them will more than likely have less than 30 students. These are the students who have aspirations to achieve the topmost level of foreign language, science, math, etc., depending upon their strengths. With these skills they plan to apply to such colleges as Harvard, Yale, Stanford, Annapolis, UCLA, etc. AP/Honors Calculus may have 26 students. How can the MUSD school board tell our top students they are removing the courses that enhance their chances of even being competitive in an application pool of 26,000 or more students, most of whom have 8+AP/Honors courses on their transcripts? Manteca Unified has students at these schools and many others. This opportunity would be seriously diminished or removed altogether. This proposal would also remove electives in the high school curriculum such as woodshop, welding, mechanics and more. The safety factor and the classroom setup for such classes will not allow for 30+ students. Many graduates are employable with the skills acquired within programs such as these.

Look at the magnitude of disservice you would be doing to all of current and future MUSD students.

Secondly: What were you thinking when proposing the removal of drafting technology teachers? The misguided concept that everything is done on computer has led to this proposal. The fact is that colleges such as Cal Poly Pomona, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, Harvey Mudd Engineering, etc., have accepted MUSD students based on their skills/portfolio in all areas of drafting. In fact, a former student and recent college graduate is now working at 3M due to his greater demonstrated knowledge of all drafting concepts/formats. Students with these skills have a portfolio that gets them in the door of colleges as well as prospective employers. How could anyone justify taking that away?

Third: The necessity of teaching Drivers Education courses at the high school level has come into question. But I want to tell you and the general public that for now, it will not save money to cut those courses at this time. Driver’s Education is a 9-week course that is backed by the other nine weeks of the semester with Health. If Driver’s Ed is taken out of the curriculum the problem remaining is what to back up Health with? Typing has been suggested. As ideal as that sounds look at the logistics. At this time there would not be adequate numbers of typing books so the expense of purchasing new books for 5 high schools comes up. Since a new class of Health starts every nine weeks, each period of the day that means an increase in the number of typing classes needed during the school year. Who will teach them? The NEW teacher that must be hired to expand the high school business departments! How does any of this save the district money, which was the goal in the first place? Keep the Driver’s Ed teacher who is already there, use the books that are already there and leave it alone.

Fourth: The third level cuts that were proposed by the budget committees and subsequently ignored still have not gotten another look. Some of them are:

Transportation — can be eliminated at the high school level, or charge a minimal fee. Transportation to sporting events by athletic teams can be paid for with a one time, yearly fee for each athlete. One or a combination of these can save over $400,000.

Eliminate class size reduction at the high school, 9th grade level saving over $160,000.

Cut contribution to MUST sports saving $150,000.

Lastly, I would like to point out that it is human beings and their lives you are playing with. I understand that some personalities clash, making negotiations difficult. But I would encourage objectivity, independent thinking by the school board, and compassion.

Every day the staff members of this district are expected to go to work and be the best professionals we can be despite the fact that our livelihoods hang in the balance. Our children go to school knowing that many programs they enjoy will be changed, or eliminated and then come home to family discussions of how to pay bills, keep our homes, find employment in a depressed economy, and possibly uprooting their lives. This will go on for months because for whatever reasons, something that initially started out as positive, good faith negotiations has turned into a spitting contest.

Budget modifications should not be hurting students. What was supposed to stay as far away from the students as possible is now becoming something that could be a direct hit on their aspirations. Think about AP/Honors and technology classes and the necessity to a student’s future. Revisit the level three cuts. There were many more than just the ones mentioned in this letter.

We, and our families, are under stress caused by uncertainties and a diminished moral. It is a bleak, long term situation that did not have to occur. Please, keep the human element in mind in what you are doing.
Angie Chadwick
April 21, 2009