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Challenges are what make life interesting; overcoming them is what makes life meaningful.--Joshua J. Marine
It goes without saying that our District is currently facing a fiscal crisis that is quite unprecedented. Its response to these times will resonate for years to come. In my estimation, there are two types of districts - those whose employees work together to find solutions to issues as deep and as perplexing as budget cuts, and those whose employees point fingers at each other and work in isolation during times of stress. I have always held Chino Valley Unified School District to be the district that sets an example for others. Our people have been known to treat others the way they would like to be treated.
Why did they dig so deep? How do they think the District can function without the people and programs? Those are just some of the questions that I have been fielding. The answer? It’s very simple – they had to. The District has lost more than $30 million in revenues over the last five years. I hesitate to dwell on the obvious but when the District spends 91.5% of its unrestricted general fund on salaries and benefits that is the area where cuts must take place.
Think of it in these terms: the District gets a “paycheck” in which it has to pay its expenses each month. There is enough to pay the bills with just a small amount left over. But each month the amount left over is shrinking as expenses keep increasing until we see in the near future that without a bigger paycheck, there will not be enough to cover expenses. School district financing is literally no different than what you do with your paycheck and how you manage your budget at home. The main difference is that school districts are required to keep a percentage in reserve in proportion to the overall budget and the County Office of Education tells us what assumptions must be included in our budget preparations.
Just as there are some groups who feel that the cuts are unfairly shouldered by some and not others, a frequent target lately has been the District office. Representatives from Associated Chino Teachers (A.C.T.) asked for district office and Maintenance and Operations and Transportation offsite staff positions during fiscal year 2008/2009 as compared to 2011/2012. You may see the difference by clicking the link to the five page document. (Click here)
I am hopeful that we can stick to the facts when discussing the budget. There is myth and urban legend and then there is reality. Most people want to know the truth and many are willing to spend time researching it themselves. Others are content to pass along information that may or may not be accurate. As statements and questions are raised, the District will attempt to provide answers or clarify information. Please click the link below to view Fact or Fiction?
(Fact or Fiction) – a question and answer format addressing statements heard around the Chino Valley.
As trying as these times are, however, there is no shortage of good things to acknowledge. The Board of Education has also been recognized by the California Department of Education in partnership with the California Middle Grades Alliance because of their collaboration in acknowledging the importance of promoting academic excellence, developmental responsiveness, social equity, and organizational structures and processes. The Board was nominated by middle grade administrators and endorsed by a second administrator within the District. The award recognizes the critical support school boards provide to implement and sustain focused reform efforts that promote student achievement in the middle grades.
In addition, over the past three weeks, four elementary and one K-8 school hosted Distinguished School Validation visits. Cal Aero Preserve Academy (K-8) and Chaparral, Oak Ridge, Rolling Ridge, and Wickman Elementary Schools are in the near-final stretch to become the District’s newest distinguished schools. The distinction is not taken lightly nor is it easy to obtain, but it is validation that in spite of claims to the contrary, the District’s mission to provide a quality education to its students is being maintained.
In conclusion, the near future may not appear hopeful and bright. But let it be duly noted that in spite of the adversity that seems to overwhelm us at times, our District will persevere and will remain a “beacon of light” in the communities of Chino, Chino Hills, and south Ontario.
Wayne M. Joseph
How did we get here? Since the State’s fiscal crisis began, funding for education has been cut by 16%, or $7 billion each year, beginning in 2008/09. This is the fourth straight year, and we are entering the fifth year that the District has had to endure a revenue reduction from the State. The District has lost more than $30 million in revenues over the last five years and has been forced to make budget reductions of significant magnitude to bridge the revenue deficit. The level of funding per average daily attendance (ADA) projected for this year is $5,149, compared to $5,776 per ADA from 2007/08. Additionally, the District has been experiencing declining enrollment at an average of 500 students per year for the past six years.
Earlier this month, the Board had the unenviable task of balancing the budget after already cutting thousands of dollars from the budget. Items that had the least impact on students and the classrooms were eliminated years ago. Over the past several years, the Board has cut programs, salaries, services, and even the number of days students attend school. Approximately 91.5% of the District’s unrestricted general fund is spent on salaries and benefits, leaving only 8.5% for general supplies, services and operations expenses.
All employee groups – certificated, classified and management - have contributed to reducing the budget gap through furlough days, salary reductions, a hiring freeze, an increase in class sizes, layoffs and elimination of positions, and budget reductions at the school sites and within all departments. Although campaigns to increase student attendance and reduce energy usage have captured millions of dollars for the District, all measures combined were not enough to allow the budgets to balance in the event the tax initiative fails.
At times the “right” thing to do is not necessarily the most “popular” thing to do. Rumors and misinformation circulate during times like this and the truth being stretched beyond recognition does nothing to help ease the situation. The facts are available on our website under the budget tab. For instance, the Budget Study Session from October 13, 2011, specifies the savings to the District should each employee group take five to eight furlough days. The Budget Study Session held on November 10, 2011, specifies in detail the $2.8 million in ongoing cuts that have been made at the District office since July 1, 2009. With all of the scrutiny school budgets are subjected to, whether by the County Office of Education or through the annual audits, transparency is simply a standard practice.
Chino Valley Unified School District has undergone significant transformation since the State’s financial problems have been passed on to us. We know that the schools will look significantly different next school year if the tax initiative doesn’t pass or if we don’t see substantial funding returned to the District. The Board of Education is committed to bringing back as many positions as they can, as expeditiously as they possibly can, should our financial situation improve. Surely during this time, we desperately need to maintain a spirit of cooperation in which all employee groups seek to find viable solutions to our fiscal woes. We must be careful that the initial hurt and sadness as a result of the cuts is not turned into anger and bitterness – there is no positive outcome to such an approach.
Instead, through this adversity we must all have the resolve to stand together, hand in hand, to find common ground during these difficult times. Only then will we be able to rise above the fray with the heart and soul of our District still intact.
Wayne M. Joseph
The strength of a nation derives from the integrity of the home. -Confucius-
When I learned this week that the cities of Chino and Chino Hills were named as two of the 100 Best Communities for young people by America’s Promise, I was reminded of the words of Confucius. Although I am thrilled by the recognition achieved by both cities, I can honestly say that I am not surprised.
As I visit classrooms throughout our District, I am always heartened by the quality of our young people in the area of both academics and character. Of course, these qualities emanate from the home. Primarily, it is the parents who instill in our children a sense of the importance of learning. This conviction is reinforced by our exemplary teaching and support staff, along with the influence of our community and community leaders. As a result, the Chino Valley Unified School District continues to be the envy of others.
We recently learned from the California Department of Education that five of our elementary schools, Wickman, Rolling Ridge, Chaparral, Oak Ridge, and Cal-Aero, are eligible to apply for Distinguished School status this year. In spite of budget and other constraints, our schools continue to soar because we are blessed to serve such substantively rich and vital communities.
Once again, I extend my heartfelt congratulations to the cities of Chino and Chino Hills for a much deserved recognition.
Dear Staff and Community Members,
These are the best dates on the calendar, as far as I am concerned, when a new school year begins and every child comes to school with a clean slate. There are plentiful opportunities for each child to be successful. I hope you took the time to enjoy and celebrate the achievements of last year. Let us make a commitment that each child and parent – hand-in-hand with our excellent teaching and support staff – will strive for a level of success that might seem a little too far out of reach, but in reality, is not.
I believe that every child can be successful if given the opportunity. They cannot do it alone. Every day is important and as parents I ask that you make illness the only excuse for students not to be in school. Attendance - it Counts!
Let’s make this the year that all adults, whether it is mom or dad, grandmother or grandfather, aunt or uncle, get involved as well. Time spent supporting your child’s school-related activities, working together on homework, or providing quiet time to read a book are all actions that will benefit our students.
Make that commitment with me. Let’s keep each child on the path to success by doing all we can for them.
Have a successful year!
December 10, 2010
As the holiday season rapidly approaches, it gives one pause to sit back and ruminate over the many things for which we have to be thankful. As a community which has withstood the assault of the dire economic times and continues to wait for the economy to improve, it is only through the caring and giving nature of many in our school and business communities that we have been able to survive.
In the school district specifically, in an unprecedented display of sacrifice, all three units, administrative, certificated, and classified gave furlough days to ameliorate the budgetary crisis. Their generosity we remember especially at this time of year.
On a personal level, I am thankful to those in our District community to whom I have turned during my own dark days and nights. These folks have always been there to provide the needed comfort and kind words at just the right moments. Let’s all take the opportunity this holiday season to give thanks for all of the blessings we have living and working in such a vibrant community as the Chino Valley.
“Were it left for me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate for a moment to prefer the latter.” - Thomas Jefferson
I have recently given much thought to Jefferson’s words.
I find myself often teased by superintendents from neighboring districts concerning the amount of front page coverage the issues in our school District receive in our local newspapers. Their feeling is that such coverage tends to keep the spotlight away from them and their district, so they kiddingly encourage me to keep the attention on our District.
I must admit that I have often wondered why we get more than our fair share of coverage in the press. I have even expressed my dismay and consternation to a member of the press when a recent article on our increased test scores appeared on page four of one our local newspapers while the legitimacy of a high school elective class incorporating the effects of the Bible on literature and history merited front page coverage in the same newspaper.
But in thinking about this issue again, I realize I was wrong.
As a member of the public, I may have an opinion, but should not have any control over the editorial decisions made by newspapers concerning the placement of articles. But more importantly, on re-examining this issue, I find it to be a “blessing in disguise.” By being under such scrutiny, our District is better off in the long run. People will continue to hold us to a higher standard and we will tend to make better decisions knowing that the public has us under the proverbial microscope. As long as our District makes decisions that are honest and transparent without any ulterior motives, with the best interest of students at the core, we have nothing to fear.
We may decry, at times, the old adage in news reporting that “…if it bleeds, it leads.” But a free press is one of the hallmarks of our democracy. Napoleon Bonaparte once quipped, “Four hostile newspapers are to be feared more than a thousand bayonets.” As a dictator, Napoleon knew that the power of words ultimately outlasts the power of force and that in a truly free society, the press must be able to function without restraint.
So the next time I see my superintendent friends and they begin teasing me about our District’s press coverage, I will smile to myself knowing that we in Chino are emblematic of one of the qualities that has always set America apart---a free and vibrant press.
September 17, 2010
The results of the 2009-10 Academic Performance Index scores are in and once again our District’s students have shown an increase in performance. Our overall District score improved from 799 to 812 with a vast majority of schools showing an increase in scores from the previous year.
I must admit that although I am pleased by the scores, I am not surprised. If one were to walk in and out of the classrooms throughout our District as I have done, one would see the quality of instruction that our students receive on a daily basis. It is not luck or coincidence that our scores continue to rise, but it is a direct reflection of this community, parents, teachers, classified personnel, and administrators who have joined together to ensure that our students receive an outstanding education.
Kudos to all of our employees who continue to make our Chino Valley Unified School District the number one district in San Bernardino County.
In recent weeks, there have been accusations concerning sexual improprieties involving district students. I am shocked and heartbroken by these allegations. When regrettable circumstances like this have been alleged to occur, we naturally ask ourselves how this could have been prevented.
Although employees are fingerprinted before being granted employment, it is impossible to know what lurks in the hearts and souls of human beings. I, for one, never thought I would see the day when two planes would fly into the Twin Towers in New York, or hear of students shooting other students in Columbine, or read of people becoming suicide bombers for a cause in which they believed.
This is another reminder for all of us, but especially parents, to be active participants in students' lives. It means checking text messages and e-mails, monitoring phone calls, and knowing where your students are going during the day and evenings. What some students view as an "invasion of their privacy," becomes the only safeguard parents have to protect the innocence of their children.
I know this is a very unsettling matter that can raise questions and concerns. If you have any concerns that need to be discussed, please feel free to contact my office directly. You need to know that as a district, we are committed to doing everything within our power to ensure the safety of our students. However, it should be duly noted that our employees as a whole are a wonderful group of human beings who continue to devote themselves every day to the overall well being of our students. Although we are all heartbroken by the recent allegations, we must refrain from the tendency to "paint" all of our employees with the same "brush." Let us continue in our resolve to make our district the best it can be for all of our students.
June 18, 2010
The darker the night, the brighter the stars. - Chinese Proverb
May 21, 2010
April 2, 2010
March 19, 2010
It is tempting to adopt an “out with the old, in with the new,” attitude when people retire. Let us not forget the incalculable hours that these teachers spent educating our students, many of whom have gone on to successful careers; equally important is the high standard of ethical and moral behavior they set, and the minds and hearts that were touched through their care and compassion.
It must be a bittersweet time for these teachers who will be leaving us in a few months. Although they know it is the right time to begin a new chapter in their lives, they must be experiencing some cognitive dissonance in leaving a profession in which they have left such a lasting impression on so many students.
Our board once again is in the unenviable position of deciding where to make cuts which will inevitably affect the students and employees of our district. In times like these, it is easy to fall prey to the temptation of “demonizing” certain groups. Casting aspersions at board members, the administrators, classified personnel, or our teachers during these times serves no useful purpose and in the end, proves counterproductive. If there was ever a time for us to stand together as a district, the time is surely now.
I know for some, it is easier to stay “stuck in the past,” lamenting what they feel are the mistakes the district has made in the last couple of years. But for us to successfully extricate ourselves from the quagmire surrounding us, we must be concerned about the present and the future, and be willing to find ways to mutually share the sorrow and pain that such times force upon all of us.
The choice is now before us. We can either stand together and assist each other in overcoming this storm, or we can stand apart and let the winds of divisiveness engulf us.
Winston Churchill was right, people are able to rise to great heights in times of difficulty. I believe we can, and will, find a way out of this current Armageddon of ours, but it is only through faith and trust in each other that we will ultimately prevail.
Dear Staff and Community Members,
This pithy quote from one of Dickens’ famous novels, succinctly evokes the times in which we currently live. With financial calamity, joblessness, and the loss of homes swirling around us, one is tempted to think that things cannot get much worse.
However, it is also simultaneously, a great time to be an educator. I can honestly say that as Superintendent of this District I am heartened every day by the smiles on the faces of the children we serve and the diligence and tireless work of our employees.
Although we face a questionable economic future as the State attempts to balance its budget, and the specter of Program Improvement hangs over us, our teachers, administrators and classified personnel continue to offer a quality education to our students. This fact is evidenced by an overall district API score of 800, with six schools breaking the 900 mark.
It is easy in such times as these to subscribe to the “woe is me” syndrome. Whether it is individual people or in this case, a school district, the true measure of one’s strength and resilience can only be measured in times that are the most challenging.