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The South Orange County Democratic Club published in their June Newsletter Pro and Con arguments regarding the Capistrano Unified School District Recall. Here they are, in no particular order,Ã‚Â after the flip.
Recall Is the Solution
by Sharon OÃ¢â‚¬â„¢Brien
The indictment and removal from office of James Fleming did not end corruption and poor management in CUSD. It exposed the incompetence and criminality that has been everyday business for over 15 years. The old-guard trustees worked closely with Fleming and continue to rule over this district without regard for its 51,000 children. The recall of Draper and Benecke can halt the destructive direction of CUSD. This change must occur before state budget decisions are finalized and before they lead the board into inflicting more irreversible damage.
Five of the many reasons why you should vote on June24th to recall Benecke and Draper:
Extravagant District offices while students sit in old portables. The $52 million spent on the district office could have been spent on schools. District leaders have admitted to misleading the public in how the building was funded. Result: The Superintendent has a personal shower in his office, and kids at Newhart Middle School eat lunch on shower-room floors.
No long-term strategic planning. Schools in decay have been ignored, while lavish expenditures are made elsewhere. Result: DraperÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s primary attention has been to SJHHS, the state of the art school in her hometown. She has publicly claimed it will be her crowning achievement. She was the sole vote opposed to hiring a firm to assess all CUSD schools. Her daughter is CEO of the firm hired to complete the SJHHS environmental reportÃ¢â‚¬â€and wrote it herself.
District Attorney investigations into violation of public meeting laws. Making public decisions behind closed doors is illegal and the District Attorney has found that the Board violated the Brown Act on countless occasions. The DA continues to investigate matters of CUSD. School boards making sound, intelligent and legal decisions do not need closed doors. Result: The new trustees left meetings to avoid breaking the law.
The state is in a budget crisis and decisions made now will affect the district for years. Important decisions on school funding at the state level are being made now. The decisions CUSD makes this summer will affect the success of our district. The Board has voted to increase class sizes 4 times in 7 years, and our children feel the impact every day. CUSD is at the minimum reserve requirement and has resorted to cutting basics. They are responsible for 5 years of deficit spending, including $200 million spent on the district office and SJHHS. Result: The election will cost $600,000, and the money has already been spent. Draper and Benecke vote to spend millions at each meeting.
Public service means honest, open and intelligent service to everyone. The public trust is gone; the ability to move on as a community cannot be accomplished without new leadership. We now have a district with vast inequities and has relied on parental infighting to distract from their mismanagement. Result: The same week teachers and student-support personnel received RIF notices, the superintendent was awarded a $60,000 pay increase after 6 months on the job. His salary is higher than both the state superintendent of schools and the governorÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s. Parents were asked to fund raise for teachers while majority board members focused on increasing the pay of top-level administrators.
Reform Not Recall at CUSD
by Linda Verraster
The June 24th, 2008, recall election for two current CUSD Trustees represents a slippery slope for the students, parents, and teachers of the district. While there have been issues in the past concerning former Superintendent James Fleming and the previous group of trustees, a rush to oust Marlene Draper and Sheila Benecke six months before the end of their term is an expensive attempt to hijack the board majority.
The CUSD recall group, whose last three Ã¢â‚¬Å“A-B-CÃ¢â‚¬Â candidates are currently seated on the board, are seeking to elect two additional members in the June election. This would mean that their candidates will run as incumbents this November should the recall election be successful. The potential for a 5:2 majority on June 25th should cause everyone to stop and think about the ramifications of that decision. Do we really want to go from one voting block of trustees to another?
The recall group is supported by those who espouse Ã¢â‚¬Å“values based educationÃ¢â‚¬Â and Ã¢â‚¬Å“parental choice,Ã¢â‚¬Â code words for faith based curriculum and school vouchers. This group also lacks respect for the role of the teachersÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ union in education. All these are ideas that sound appealing on face value to some. But ask your friends in the Vista, Orange, and Westminster school districts about the chaos that was created when the boards were taken over by groups on the extreme. Years of progress toward improvements or reforms were wasted while skirmishes over these issues overwhelmed the agenda.
The state budget crisis is reason alone to make sure that we have a balanced approach to the allocation of our education dollars. Steady, experienced leadership at CUSD with engaged teachers and committed families will be key to the future success of our students.
As appealing as it may sound to Ã¢â‚¬Å“throw the bums out,Ã¢â‚¬Â stop, think, take a deep breath and join me and the members of Capistrano Unified Education Association and vote NO on the CUSD recall on June 24th. LetÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s use this time to evaluate candidates who will represent all the families of CUSD. Reform, not recall, is the answer.