Mon. Jul 15th, 2024

Opinion and Commentary by Samuel Strait – June 27, 2024

It has been awhile since I last attended a School Board Meeting.  Not since Meetings surrounding the failed attempt by the local Board to maintain an Oversight Committee for the duration of the expenditure of the 2008 $25 million General Purpose Bond that not only would fail to accomplish what it promised, but is now in its sixteenth year of repayment and likely to cost local citizens nearly $50 million to repay.  Most supposed that it would only affect property owners, but that was another failing on the part of the local school district as local rentals also felt the additional burden of increasing rents to repay the Bond.  Others fell for the appeal to do something about infrastructure repair and “new” classrooms, but that also remained absent as the district blew through the Bond in short order.  Some were taken in by the promise that it would be unnecessary for further amounts from the taxpayers as the amount would be sufficient for infrastructure repairs for some time in the future.  Well, that future is now.

At the June 6, 2024 meeting of the Del Norte Unified School District, the Board voted 5-0 to encumber the County’s residents with another $59 million General Purpose Bond.  Repayment will reach more than $100 million.  While the wording which will appear on the November Ballot for voter approval explicitly prevents the district from utilizing the Bond funding for salaries and benefits, it is difficult to repair school buildings without paying for the labor to accomplish the repairs.  Further, infrastructure repairs take on a whole new meaning as it did in 2008 which allowed a wide range of infrastructure repairs that most would consider routine maintenance.

While the Board is clearly “tone deaf” to the already burdensome taxes most residents encounter, they clearly do not understand that the true weight will fall on those least able to afford another tax, about 60% of local low income earners, those on public assistance, seniors, and the disabled.  Well done Board.  There is; however, another shoe that dropped in this meeting.  While the Board was whining about shrinking enrollment, 3,000 by 2025-2026 and the reduction of Covid related budgets, $80 million 2023-2024 to about $67 million in 2024-2025, the report on various of the eleven school sites was two in “good” condition, seven in “fair” condition, and only two in “poor” condition.  If you were present in the meeting there was almost a continual refrain by teachers of the abysmal condition of various school sites.  One wonders just what it would take to satisfy them?  In any event it puts a new take on the “crisis” of conditions on school buildings in the district.  Yet, there was no mention of closing the two schools in “poor” condition due to the decline in enrollment.

Frank Magarino, Charlaine Mazzei, Don McArthur, Abbie Crist and Michael Greer

While the manufactured “crisis” should be of great concern for the public, another item of public interest appeared throughout the meeting, in particular during the discussion of the budget for the upcoming year.  If I thought I was attending a meeting of the County’s Department of Health and Human Services, the terms “Intervention and Indoctrination” would seem relatively normal to be spoken multiple times during the course of the meeting.  In a meeting of the school board I would expect “education” to be of paramount concern for educators.  Not so.  It would appear that educators no longer control the behavior in the classroom and out in the playground.  Dozens of concerns for loss of intervention programs from the District’s future budgets.  Appeals for consideration of yet more intervention, sounding similar to this Springs concerns of the County’s Health and Human Services to their potential losses of funding for the future.  Has the School District become yet another form of providing for dysfunctional youth, a precursor to entering as adults into the ranks of adults being provided for by DHHS? Where does education rank in importance at the Unified School District?

For years the local school district has performed poorly against State wide averages.  This has become evident as local students in growing numbers have displayed a disturbing lack of proper education allowing them to become meaningful members of society.  It is a problem of decades of poor performance by local schools for far too many of its charges. If intervention and indoctrination are the current “tools” to educate, then it is no wonder that the local district is bleeding students,  Parents and students may be different today than it was when I was in school, but a parent that wishes their child to receive an education should and probably already have searched for alternatives to the Del Norte Unified School District.

Frank Magarino, District 3, Charlaine Mazzei, District 4, Don McArthur, District 1, Abbie Crist, District 2, and Michael Greer, District 5.
One thought on “Del Norte School District: Education, Or Intervention And Indoctrination”
  1. My Property Tax Bill shows I’m paying on School Bonds A, D, E, and F plus something to CR. What have they done with money for the schools? Apparently not much. I should be impressed they think I’m independently wealthy. I’m voting NO.

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