The first challenge our district faces today is how to get through passing Measure V. This is THE elephant in the room and cannot be ignored.
Raising revenue is intimately tied to solving the immediate budget shortfall. Costs continue to rise no matter what else is going on. This is true for everyone including the school district.
Without additional funding our schools will whither.
Without substantial additional funding, our schools will continue the gradual decline that has taken California public schools from top in the country in the 1970s to an embarrassing 46th or so today. While we may be a bit better than that here in the San Mateo Foster City School District, it is not by much.
We cannot ask for great schools for our children and not be willing to pay for them.
Our school district is not perfect. We sometimes buy crummy software and equipment . We sometimes make poor choices. Probably most damaging, we sometimes hire poor teachers and staff.
We can’t avoid all errors and still get anything done. When we identify errors, we will fix them as soon as possible.
We are a $140+ Million a year enterprise.
$100 Million of that goes to salaries and benefits.
We serve 12,000 students at 20 schools in Foster City and San Mateo.
San Mateo and Foster City are growing and getting more expensive to live and operate in.
That is reality.
There is no magic to education. It is simple math.
If you want our kids to be ready to face the challenges of today and tomorrow, our kids need great teachers (well-compensated) and classroom staff who are well supported in well-stocked, well-teched, well-maintained facilities.
That takes money.
We have done the best we can with the constraints of where we live and the budgets we have been given.
We have squeezed and economized and cut and cut some more.
We can’t continue this.
We are failing.
Our worst failure may be to keep telling you that everything is “OK” or even “close to OK”.
Things have gotten quite far from OK.
Things are grim.
Our front-line troops – your teachers and staff are flat out poorly compensated compared to their peers and the cost of living and working here.
Just to tread water is going to cost an additional $10 Million per year.
If we want our 12,000 students to get the services that we think they deserve is going to cost a lot more than that.
And that number has to grow at 10% a year just to keep up with the cost of living and working here.
Yes, we can be more efficient.
Yes, we can be more transparent.
We will do that regardless.
But more efficiency and better transparency is not going to make up for tens of millions of dollars that we don’t have.
This is basic math, not magic.
We all know there is a crisis here on the Peninsula.
Exploding housing prices.
Salaries for many of us that make living here more difficult each year and leaving here more and more compelling.
We can choose to continue as things are going until our systems collapse.
And leave it to others to pick up the pieces.
That is not our choice.
As educators and supporters of good education, we choose a better future.
We choose to believe in a better future for the children of Foster City and San Mateo.
We choose to rebuild our school system to support our children.