By Samuel Strait, Reporter At Large – September 2, 2021
For a couple of weeks now we’ve been asked by the Del Norte Unified
School District to prepare for in-school learning. During the course of
the the previous local school year the disaster became evident to even
the most ardent supporters of on-line-learning that it was failing
miserably to educate our youth. In the run up to this year’s
anticipated school openings, parents have been greeted with the
convoluted requirements the District is requiring just to get in the
school house doors. More masking, social distancing and now testing and
quarantining over fears of Covid-19’s Delta Variant. While it has long
been understood that if you were young and healthy there was little to
fear for a vast majority of the local students while attending school.
It is unfortunate, that the local school district has made it harder
than it really has to be.
As we are still at a time where many students are recommended by
vaccination restrictions to avoid vaccination until they reach the age
of twelve, the notion that the school district has injected themselves
in the idea that those unvaccinated must endure regular testing when
few are in any danger from Covid-19. It seems a bridge too far. When
faced with a bewildering array of potential quarantine situations, it
might be difficult for most parents and students to function in the
local in-school setting for the coming year. The school district was
already facing the loss of a large portion of their student population
in 2020-2021 due to school policies and was looking to rebound in this
coming school year, so much so, that the projected enrollment, at least
according to the Covid tracker revealed by the district in several local
publications was to be 4103.
While granted this number 4103 was a “projected” number of students
returning to school for the 2021-2022 year it is important to note that
projected numbers do not reflect the amount of money the District will
receive in future years. That number is from actual attendance and it
has been reported as near 3600 students on the first day of classes.
The school district at the beginning of 2021 was bemoaning the numbers
then and forecasting loss of millions of dollars of ADA money should the
school population numbers fail to rebound. They have not.
There can be many reasons for why this is the case, shrinking County
population, home schooling, private school enrollment, and dropouts.
Those reasons do little to help the District with its shrinking student
population and with its potential shrinking bottom line. What is
striking about the current chaos at the local District with student
population is that the revelation of the abysmal job the District had
been doing in the delivery of education. It is currently ranked 3/10 or
in the lower 50% of all California’s school districts. While this has
been the case for some time now, on-line learning revealed to many
parents just how poor of a job was being done. It shouldn’t be much of
a surprise that parents who actually care about their child’s education
just might be searching around for alternatives. There is the distinct
possibility of continued shrinkage if the District’s current ham handed
approach to in class learning continues to be the norm for this school year.
It is not as though the District has a stellar record delivering
education. With other alternatives available, the trickle of defections
from public schools could very well become a flood. If the District’s
decisions to spend money unwisely, the $47 million bond proposal, the
purchase of the the medical offices to serve as a district version of
social services for homeless students, and the questionable expenditure
of a previous $25 million bond with little to show for it being among
them. That coupled with the announcement of deferred maintenance and
neglect of school buildings to the tune of millions more dollars for
what has to be many years of neglect, it should be understandable that
more parents are done with supporting an obviously broken system and
wish for their children to escape this growing train wreck.