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An open letter to the Inglewood community

Dear Inglewood Community Members,

The Inglewood Unified School District’s students needs your help.  The IUSD is currently under state control due to issues transpiring over the last decade.  Although we are the 9th school district to become under state control, we face a huge threat to our recovery.  Charter schools.

When other districts have succumbed due to fiscal insolvency, the district didn’t lose to many students to private schools because of the costs.  Many of our students are leaving the district in favor of charter schools.  Charter schools became a viable alternative due to smaller class sizes and the ability to hold both students and teachers accountable for their actions.

At tonight’s parent meeting with the interim state administrator, parents were informed of the state of the IUSD.  The state has made severe cuts to staffing/education levels by eliminating: ECE, Head Start, Adult School and Continuation which cost approx. 60 staff members to lose their jobs come the end of school year 2012-13.

The interim state administrator and her cabinet have come up with short-term goals in order to address the budget shortfalls.  Transitional kindergarten has been implemented to cover students who were in ECE and Head Start.  Common Core standards will be implemented beginning with additional training for the teachers.  Dual language will be implemented to address teaching students foreign language at an earlier age.  The Adult School will become the Inglewood Career Technology Education Academy where students will be able to enroll in courses geared towards developing job skills.

FCMAT and CDE will present the fiscal recovery plan at a Community Budget Meeting on Tuesday, May 28th at 6pm over at Morningside High School which will address a plan for school year 2013-14.  FCMAT will not release a multi-year recovery plan for a couple of reasons.  The district is in worse shape than we were aware of and there is uncertainty of student enrollment.  We will see two schools combine and our dependent charter high school moving to one of the former elementary schools to accommodate more students.

Although there is a plan in place to address student recruitment the most pressing concern is a MOU signed by the former state administrator and the teachers unions.  Teachers salaries and benefits represent the largest part of the budget, followed by retirement, lawsuits and workers comps claims.  A few years back, the board proposed cuts to the teachers salaries/benefits equivalent to a 15% reduction in pay, which of course they do not want.  Union officials have been clear they don’t want the fiscal deficiencies balanced on their backs.  But I am wondering if the unions are aware that we are all loosing here.

Students lose when they are forced to be in a classroom with maximum capacity of approx. 35-40 students.  Students lose when full departments close as a result of the budget shortfalls.  Students lose when staff morale is low and they don’t show up to work.  Students lose when teachers don’t come to work and the substitute isn’t teaching.  Students lose when the district has to pay for both the teacher and substitute but aren’t being taught.  Students will lose if our district is dissolved.

If IUSD is not able to retain students, recruit new students and re-negotiate with the unions, our district could be dissolved within two years.  CDE will not give us another loan.  As we are all taking a loss, I am asking you, the reader, to consider signing a petition in support of the teachers going back to the negotiation table.

Why do we want the teachers to negotiate?  We can’t afford to lose anymore staff and we surely can’t afford to lose the entire district.  Is that what you want Chris, Jameer and Peter?  If the district is dissolved there will be no more members to pay your dues.  If the district is dissolved for you encouraging your fellow members to not negotiate, what other districts in their right mind will subscribe for your services?  If Inglewood, students, parents and staff lose the district, so will you.

If you are in support of IUSD unions going back to the table to save our district, please sign the petition by clicking here.

WE ARE ALL IN THIS TOGETHER.  Lets not let what happened to Hostess employees happen to Inglewood USD.

In solidarity,

Melissa

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4 Responses so far.

  1. ABY says:

    Isn’t it counterintuitive to cut people’s salaries THAT deep at a time when they’re already beat down. You say tell them to re-negotiate but where is the negotiation if the district is really in that bad of shape? If teachers get subs as much as you claim(some actual numbers would be nice) due to low morale, how will accepting an even deeper cut Boost morale? I get your passion but your argument is contradictory at best , short sighted and dividing at worst. How about we all unify and demand the state hire an administrator and put some structures in place to stop the bleeding otherwise you’ll be calling on employees to renegotiate again for more and more cuts until they have nothing left . How is that good for the future of district and future of students? I’m not in support of scapegoating teachers and custodians and aides and bus drivers (they are the union) for problems they did not cause. Put the blame -and solutions – where they belong.

    • UrbanGirl says:

      The blame is on a DECADE OF DECLINE at the very hands of the advisory board. The advisory board fucked Inglewood USD with no vaseline. Now that we have state presence, which the union voted in favor of, they are left to do the job that the advisory board failed to do. We just saw the state close four departments with an approx. loss of 60 jobs. How many more IUSD staff have to lose their job outright before Cal-Pro and ITA comes to their senses?

      Negotiations are just that, negotiations. Both sides say what they are willing to give and what they are willing to take. If the state is willing to make concessions, why aren’t the unions?

  2. Married2ateacher says:

    As a father of two elementary children and husband of a elementary teacher, DO NOT SIGN THIS LETTER WITHOUT WEIGHING ALL THE FACTS! It is well meaning but unrealistic. If we are all in this together let’s demand more of Tom Torlakson and the state administrator and our elected officials to fully fund our schools not scapegoat the underresourced, underpaid, underappreciated employees of the district.

    Mrs. Hebert’s: I empathize with the students of Inglewood, my child will be there next school year. My wife who is one of the first to arrive and last to leave her campus empathizes with you and the students. Honestly, it is a frequent argument in our household that she sacrifices too much time and money that could go to our household and family in the interest of serving your and other peioples children. Do you realize how divisive your letter is and what an insult that is to the majority of hardworking, sacrificing, heroic teachers that serve in that district? Over the past three years, my wife has taken salary cuts, benefit cuts, materials and supply cuts (which actually takes away more of our income as she supplants the state budget shortfalls and decades of poor budgeting by IUSD). When I read your letter, I am infuriated that you would be so small minded and limited in your understanding to go as far as to blame the victims- underpaid and exploited teachers and underpaid secretaries, bus drivers and instructional aides. My wife has taken cut after cut, made sacrifice after sacrifice for this district with nothing in return. Let me ask you this since you claim to fact check, do you know that back in 2010, a whopping 3 years ago, FCMAT identified the same problems back then that you mention (excluding the teachers salaries portion). And my wife and most employees responded and shared the sacrifice by negotiating furlough days and benefit cuts (and if you read the report, employee salaries were not the problem by the way). Now that the state has come in, we find out none of those problems were ever addressed so I understand why my wife, a teacher in this district for 15 years does not trust to make those sacrifices again. The state it seems to me has some fault in this with over 6 billion in education cuts to public schools along with a school board who made unsound and/or late fiscal cuts, and legislators who turned a blind eye to the chaos and corruption. If you are going to ask me, my two sons 3 and 6 and my wife to cut our livelihoods by AT LEAST 15%-20% more than we already have by demanding that she agree to negotiate when they have not made any real changes, then YOU must also ask each parent of every child to contribute 20% of their household incomes, including yourself, to keep their schools and district alive. IT is just not fair to blame hardworking, sacrificing teachers like her, who tutors, hosts parent workshops, volunteers on all types of committees, attends students b-day parties, sports games and family weddings on weekends, buys her own Xerox paper, gadgets and rewards for her students and on and on for problems they did not cause. At some point the expectations for teachers to be ALL sacrificing no matter the cost has to stop and now it’s going to far!! SO please stand with me and other families and children of teachers in supporting their struggle to maintain some remnants of dignity and self-respect in upholding their contract instead of negotiating in the dark with people who have not earned their trust and undervalue her worth! If FCMAT can’t give a multi-year recovery plan for the district with all the uncertainty you write about, how can you in good sense ask my wife and my family to enter into an abyss of uncertainty? Let me get real, we wouldn’t be able to afford our rent here in Inglewood, just for starters! While your plea is heartfelt and I sympathize, your analysis lacks depth, consideration of all sides and any recognition that if it has gotten this bad that teachers have to contribute 20% of their salaries to keep the district serving your children, then so should anyone who signs your petition be willing to make the same contribution from their household! I’m just saying…. Be smarter than most and stop blaming the victims! Each time I suggest “why don’t you just leave and work in another district?” she replies “because I love my kids and families and I really feel like I make a difference serving this community!”. I smile and remember its her selfless disposition and relentless work ethic that make me fall in love with her again and again. As a resident of this great city myself, I wonder has the time come to cut our losses? I wonder how do the kids win with demoralized employees, gutted resource rooms, overcrowded classrooms, and unsafe understaffed schools?

    Signed: Proud Husband of a Teacher

    • UrbanGirl says:

      This petition is not an attempt to blame teachers in any way. The petition is asking them to negotiate. The teachers are who parents interact with on a daily basis, not the district personnel. We are hopeful that a survey can be taken of every parent who has pulled their child and we need to only ask one question, “WHY DID YOU TAKE YOUR CHILD/REN OUT OF THE INGLEWOOOD UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT”. Once we get those answers, we can get somewhere.

      Parents leave the district due to a few reasons: 1) lack of quality education, 2) lack of technology in the classroom, 3) lack of funding to create new projects, 4) lack of respect from district staff. Parents first line of contact is with the school site, not the district. While the district’s lack of leadership is apparent, it shouldn’t affect the classroom. Staff morale is at an all-time low.

      Our interim state administrator is a regular reader of 2urbangirls so hopefully she is able to incorporate a survey at CWA that asks parents why they are leaving so we can analyze and report the findings. Parents are accountable for our childs behavior and teachers are responsible for creating an enviornment condusive to learning. Many teachers spend many “sick” days away from the classroom which leaves us with substitutes who do absolutely zero teaching.

      Our loan of $55 million dollars is held against collateral. The collateral IUSD leveraged to obtain the loan is our school property. Should we fail to retain students and attract students back, we will be in default and many teachers will lose their jobs, no ifs, ands or buts about it.

      My question to you is, why would teachers rather risk their job outright than to negotiate? The staff who will suffer the most is classified who are still scheduled for more cuts before school years end. Classified cuts will most likely take place in the summer as parents were told at the recent parent meeting that ALL upper management has been put on notice that change is coming.

About Melissa

I am a lifelong Inglewood resident living in District 4. I serve on PTA and School Site Council as Vice-President, for the last 8 years with Inglewood Unified School District. I volunteer on the Wellness Committee for ICEF Public Schools. I am an alumni of California State University, Dominguez Hills with a degree in Political Science. You can find me on Twitter under @CreoleMommie

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