As the parent of a special needs student in the Sacramento City Unified School District, I was disappointed to read the commentary by Victoria Carr, a teacher in the Sacramento City Unified School District (“Struggling to make Sac City a destination school district”; Forum, April 16). We should be focusing on students and building a positive school climate, not pointing fingers.
I have served on parent advisory committees and PTAs; I know how the district budgets and spends money. Saying the district is in the best financial position in history is irresponsible. SCUSD is facing a deficit. This year, all funding from the state’s Local Control Funding Formula did not go to our children. It went to pay down outstanding pension debt obligations for teachers and staff.
When calculating the amount of money in reserve, the union did not subtract funds that are allocated to pay off debt obligations and other expenses. If you have $1,000 in your savings account and are planning to use that money to pay a $1,000 bill, then you don’t really have $1,000 anymore.
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We should be focusing on what matters: student performance. The teachers union has successfully bargained for an average total teacher compensation package of $91,238 a year – the highest total compensation for teachers in the region. Meanwhile, in the past three years SCUSD’s graduation rates have declined to 80 percent. Worse yet, only 43 percent of graduates meet college eligibility requirements.
While the teachers union bargains for another raise, they should also be discussing accountability. We, the parents, need assurance that the education our kids receive will result in graduation and college eligibility.
I believe parents want money for schools to go toward educating children. These are difficult financial times. We should be working together to improve student outcomes. Let’s start by being honest about the fiscal challenges facing schools, stop stirring up anger and find it in our hearts to focus on students instead of our own special interests.
Grace Trujillo is a parent and member of the Sacramento City Unified School District Community Advisory Committee. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.