Thu. May 23rd, 2024

By Samuel Strait, Reporter at Large – June 22, 2021

It is amazing at times when the planning for educational spending for
the up coming fall and into the future takes on the appearance of
everything but educational in nature.  We have already been regaled with
“new” scheduling for the fall in the form of recycled ninety minute
blocks at Del Norte High School.  Must have been enough time passing
since the last time this tried and true failure was implemented in the
local public high school.  Some how students are expected to get
comprehensive and focused learning in less time all the while earning
more credits.  Except of course, if the student is not successful, then
the “new” schedule stands ready to do it all over again in the following
session.  Some way, in the middle of all this schedule tinkering there
is time to get tutored, take one or more electives, and deal with all
the returning student’s social and emotional baggage.  Looks like that’s
where the English and math tutor comes in, as well as, IEP’s, and
specialized academic instruction.

Naturally, if the high school gets to ride in the proverbial cement
mixer, so must four of the City’s elementary schools. Plans are
currently in the works to convert Pine Grove, Bess Maxwell, Joe
Hamilton, and Mary Peacock into pairs, one pair for Kinder through
second grade, with the other two, third through fifth grade.  Naturally
because grades k thru 2 and 3 thru 5 have differing architectural needs,
thousands of dollars must be spent attending to those needs.  Lest we
forget, kinder classes would need bathrooms, and the differing needs for
materials and supplies, technology and furniture would require a whole
host of further expenditures.  Yet further consideration must be made
for library technicians, counseling technicians, more counselors, and
another psychologist.  There seems to be something missing in all of
this whirlwind, oh yes, the educational desert that students continue to
face does not seem to be addressed.

But the good news does not end there.  The local school administration
continues to delight with millions of dollars to be expended in Local
Accountability Plan Funding (LACP) over the coming year 2021-2022.  Once
again the plan seems laser focused on “safety”, masks could still be
required in the student population which has had very little issue with
the Covid-19 pandemic.  And, there is clearly an obsession with low
income students, foster and the homeless youth, and English language
learners.   This assumes that all other students are clearly successful
even though results say otherwise.

The district’s answer to all of this planning is to “hire more
teachers”, a full time English language development teacher, and an ELD
program coordinator is in the works.  The remaining hires “to lighten
the load” consist of three full-time substitute teachers, a full-time
music teacher, and some new library technicians.  If the intent is to
reduce teaching loads, maybe a few more teachers could be added to the
mix, but that part is noticeably absent.   The carnage continues with
the afore mentioned increases in counseling and psychologists hires. 
After all the local school district must be able to “navigate” what will
be a social and emotional tsunami of feelings once students return to
campus, heaven forbid the district should be focused on any thing other
after an eighteen month desert of education students experienced.

One continues to be amazed by all the hard work administration at the
Del Norte Unified School District Offices put in to result in a great
deal of money to be spent, yet no evidence it has any hope of success. 
Surely the brightest and best of us, with for many of them their six
figure salaries, there is some hope of focus by the public schools on
some measure of “educational success” rather than the lackluster
performance that is currently on full display by local public schools. 
The question could be asked, how could public education reach the depths
of mediocrity so fast, but the answer is that its an on going problem
begun decades ago.

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