School Board Election is Over, On to Governance!

The School Board must make sure every student learns by ensuring conditions for learning are equal at every school.
The School Board must make sure every student learns by ensuring conditions for learning are equal at every school.
The School Board election took place almost two months ago on November 5, 2013.   The new School Board was installed on December 12, 2013 and UPCC mightily celebrated the success of their endorsed candidates.

And it makes sense that after the election, candidates and community members reflected on the results (here is my reflection).  Yet, once the new Board Members are installed, the much harder process begins - that of governance. While some are still talking about the results of the election, it's time for the rest of us to welcome the New Year with a focus on the future.

Elections are by nature divisive. To move forward, when it's over, we all must accept that the electorate has decided who should represent the community.  And, Board members must also accept that they must represent the interests of the entire community, whether community members voted for them or for another candidate - or didn't even vote. 

Say, for example, Steve Levin.  He was the Farragut Volunteer of the Year, and President of the Farragut Fan Club for years, so naturally he has many supporters at that school.  Yet, as Board member, he must also represent the students, the families, and the community of all schools, including La Ballona Elementary, which is his neighborhood school.

The two schools couldn't be more different.  

In the years Levin led the Farragut Fan Club, the earnings increased considerably. Their 2009 tax return shows that in the prior year, the Club raised 'only' $100,005.  The 2011 tax return shows the booster club raised $209,934. This doesn't seem that surprising when you see that in their website, they suggest you can become a Platinum or Diamond Fox by making contributions of $1,000 or $2,500 (and above) per year, which only represent the average monthly cost of a private school.  These contributions allow students at Farragut Elementary to enjoy: Visual Arts Instruction at All Grade Levels, Music, Drama, and Dance Instruction, Computer Lab Aides, Instructional Supplies and Equipment, iPads, Computers, and Other Innovative Classroom Technology.

In contrast, La Ballona Education Partners reports $19,403 in 2009 and $27,769 in 2010. Their donation request is $250 per year per student. Perhaps this is because in 2012-13, 364 of its 556 students or 65%, were reported to be socioeconomically disadvantaged (Source: Data Quest).

This stark difference between the ability of these two schools to raise funds from parents to supplement that which the public provides, points to a larger challenge.  When there are children facing more hardship at home who then attend a school that has less enhancements than the school that is literally down the street, where parents are able to raise funds to pay for a learning experience that rivals a private school... the community and the School Board MUST take notice.  It is one thing for Steve Levin to have been a founding member of UPCC, and for UPCC to have helped elect him, but neither Steve Levin, nor Sue Robbins, nor Kathy Paspalis can ignore these facts.  For that matter, Laura Chardiet and Nancy Goldberg cannot ignore these facts, either.  The School Board is responsible for making sure every student learns, and to ensure that conditions for learning are equal at every school. 

This is the job of governance, and difficult as it may be to wade through the issues that inequities in funding create, they must seek to understand what has led to this situation, and what can be done to correct it.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Debbie Hamme January 04, 2014 at 08:23 PM
Jeannine: Volunteer data is tracked only by each volunteer signing in at the front desk when they arrive on campus. We ask that they simply sign in upon arrival and sign out when they leave. I am not sure what specific information you are looking for, but as the president of the UPCC, I am sure that the information you seek could be easily gathered for you by the parent site reps you have at each of our schools.
Claudia Vizcarra January 06, 2014 at 01:09 AM
Dear Readers, this has been an interesting dialogue, but it's time to end it. Any further comments will be deleted. Thank you.


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