Picture Santa Paula having a reputation as a town with an excellent school system

April 28, 2010
Op-Ed by Unification Group - Rob Corley, Marcia Edwards, Ginger Gherardi

Picture Santa Paula having a reputation as a town with an excellent school system.  Everyone would benefit-our kids, parents and our residents.  New businesses and residents would locate here to further enhance Santa Paula. New jobs and opportunities for our citizens would be created.  “Unification” is a process that can make this possible, and it is why the City Council and your neighbors are trying to put our “Kids First”.

Moorpark provides us with an excellent example. Following unification, this city became known for having one of the best school systems in the county, and Moorpark’s new businesses and residents make their city stronger and more prosperous. It is possible in Santa Paula too.

Like most schools in California, Santa Paula’s schools face enormous budget deficits that will increase class size, cut school days, teachers and programs. The very viability of SPESD is in question.  Some would say it is better to wait until the economy improves.  We believe there is no better time for Santa Paula to unify our two large school districts to cut unnecessary administrative expenses, eliminate duplication and share services in order to put much needed dollars back into the classroom.  Now is the time when savings will count the most!

There are those that argue for delay and additional study. We know that change can be frightening.  We believe that now is the time to “do more with less.”  It’s the right time for reorganization, for working together to solve problems in different ways, for building new teams, for taking a new look at old problems and for energizing the system. There are many benefits. Unification will enable families to be together for vacations and holidays as there will be one school calendar.  One curriculum means that skills and programs can be coordinated so teachers will spend less time on remedial work because there will be no gap between two systems run by different districts.

The costs of unifying our school districts are minimal. Existing schools will continue to serve students.  District offices will see changes as inefficiencies are reduced.  Most employees will keep doing the jobs they have now. Students will attend the same schools with the same teachers, the same aides and staff.

Some have questioned why we are not recommending the addition of Briggs, Mupu and the Little Red School House (Santa Clara) to the unification proposal.  Their inclusion would not add significant revenue to a city unified district, nor would their inclusion generate goodwill given their long histories as independent and successful educational communities.

Unification is about working together to provide the best education we can for Santa Paula’s kids from kindergarten through high school, about putting our “Kids First”... before separate district interests. Thus far, some of the school boards have refused to cooperate to simplify the unification process, preferring that the decision “to let the voters decide” be made by the State Board of Education, rather than making it a local decision - a waste of time and your tax dollars, too!

With unification the Districts can work together to provide a better education for all our kids, reduce administrative costs, and better serve the families of Santa Paula.  It’s time for a positive change.  It’s time to let the voter’s decide.  It’s time to put Kids First!


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