Toughest job in local elected office

THERE is no harder job in local elected office than that of school board member.

Let me say that again: Being a school board member is the toughest job in local elected office. You have to balance budgets not once but twice in a school year. You have no control over your revenues because they are provided by the state (thanks to Prop.

13). When school buildings crumble, you have to ask voters to support bond measures and pay for them for 30 years. You have to know about schools, kids, education, building, construction, bonds, personnel, the list goes on and on. And the public?

It’s not easy calming a parent whose child has been wronged.

I sincerely hope you vote on Nov. 3 for the best candidates and if you need help, follow the suggestions in the “Our View” section.

During these past five weeks, our editorial board has been interviewing candidates running for school boards throughout the San Gabriel Valley and Southeast Los Angeles County. It’s been a lot like going to class; I’ve learned a lot. Here are some of the tidbits I’ve taken away from these meetings:

A large number of students are English Learners, or ELs. In their homes, English is not spoken so they must learn English as a second language in order to do well in reading and writing but also in social studies, history and all classes. It was disturbing to hear some candidates say some students enter Kindergarten as ELs and remain as ELs when they are seniors in high school! Too many never progress out of the EL category. Part of that is due to funding. Seems like districts get more money if they have more ELs.

Forty-five different languages are spoken in the households of the El Monte Union High School District

The California State University system will be cutting enrollment by 40,000 students this year. Guess what? Those transfer students from local community colleges (PCC, Mt.

SAC, Rio Hondo College, Citrus College, East Los Angeles College) may no longer be guaranteed a spot at a CSU as a junior. Though the CSUs are not saying that officially, there is talk of going back on that promise. Scary.

School districts are not just for kids anymore. One of the newest trends is the increasing number of adults taking classes in our unified or high school districts. Adult schools are filled with people learning English or a trade. For example, the El Monte Union High School District has 25,000 adults and 11,000 high school kids.

School districts should be supported in this endeavor, especially during high unemployment.

Where have all the children gone? Almost every school district candidate that has come into my office is from a district that’s losing children. Some are seeing several hundred fewer students per year. It’s called declining enrollment and it’s mostly due to foreclosures, unemployment and before that, the high price of real estate. Younger familes are moving to the high desert and the Inland Empire. The result is an aging population in the SGV. Two exceptions I’ve found are West Covina Unified and Temple City Unified, which are experiencing increasing enrollment.

Ever wonder why superinendents or college presidents who leave usually get a year or two in pay, costing the district taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars? State law says districts must guarantee a superintendent 18 months — some get 3 years — on their contract. Perhaps that law should change.

This entry was posted in environment, land use, Pasadena by Steve Scauzillo. Bookmark the permalink.

About Steve Scauzillo

I love journalism. I've been working in journalism for 32 years. I love communicating and now, that includes writing about environment, transportation and the foothill/Puente Hills communities of Hacienda Heights, Rowland Heights, Walnut and Diamond Bar. I write a couple of columns, one on fridays in Opinion and the other, The Green Way, in the main news section. Send me ideas for stories. Or comments. I was opinion page editor for 12 years so I enjoy a good opinion now and then.

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