The most important issue we have is the lack of money available to address the burgeoning needs of our school population. Explosive growth, with increasing poverty and language needs, has meant that we are struggling to maintain our quality of education. We need to coordinate efforts by communities and elected leaders to increase the share of money we receive from the state, county, and developers. We need smart decisions to stretch the dollars we have, and programming and investment to improve our schools. We can also reduce costs through creative use of existing schools and buildings, and careful budget oversight.
Both of these can be addressed with better decision-making and use of facilities. The Board has consistently voted to reduce economic diversity among schools in the same cluster. This increases overcrowding by creating schools with different income levels, and drives development around the "wealthier" schools. We can make more balanced decisions. We can support open, attractive school programs to engage students from diverse backgrounds in areas of shared interest. Improved schools across the county will attract families and developers away from our most crowded areas.
Every student has their own unique set of challenges and abilities. We need to meet each student where they are to achieve optimal outcomes. In addition to academic support, students need healthy relationships with other students and adults in order to thrive. Students need social and emotional learning, and support that carries in and outside the classroom to navigate the challenges they face, be they physical, social, or emotional.
We need policies that model and teach students to deal with each other with empathy and support, and the manpower to make those goals a reality. We need to end bullying and isolation of other students based on their religion, race, gender identity, sexual orientation, mental illness, disability or other perceived “difference."
To do this we need trained staff with skills as counselors and social workers, so they can build relationships and recognize when kids need help. We can’t ignore the growing needs of our increasingly diverse student population.