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Our View: Talking about our schools is necessary

Our View
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If there is something good to come out of the doomsday budget crisis that local schools are mired in, it could be that it has mobilized and united parts of the community. In November, concerned parents rallied to garner voter approval for a measure that would levy a $59-a-year parcel tax on residents within Auburn Union School District boundaries. Measure L would have pumped those schools with $4 million over five years. The measure ultimately failed to get the two-thirds majority vote it needed, but the 54.19 percent of voters who said “yes” was encouraging. Since then, the same group has pushed a grass-roots effort to have supporters donate their part to local elementary schools. While the effort has brought in some donated revenue, it’s certainly not the long-term fix our classrooms and teachers need to continue giving children the best education possible. Administrators have said they must wait for the state. But some are also taking a proactive approach and asking the community to weigh in. This weekend, the Auburn Branch of the American Association of University Women and the Placer County League of Women Voters are hosting a Community Forum on Education at the State Theater in Downtown Auburn. Residents, with or without a child in school, should take two hours out of their Saturday to attend. It’s a way to hear the state of education and some of the ideas for bettering schools in our area. Topics include charter school options, technology in education, pay for teacher performance and gearing students for a successful transition from high school to college. Pam Robie Hart, a Placer County Board of Education trustee and event organizer, said there will be speakers, but said the overall goal is to have a conversation with attendees about good solutions to the financial woes schools face. Another topic that should be addressed is how to fund sports, art and music programs in the coming years. The American Civil Liberties Union filed a recent lawsuit against the state that put the spotlight on fees for public school students to participate in sports and other activities. As a result of the lawsuit, in December, former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed an agreement with the American Civil Liberties Union and set the wheels in motion for a bill to go through the legislature that would penalize schools that charged a mandatory fee. Many schools, including our own, depend on voluntary funding from parents to pay for coach stipends, uniforms, transportation to and from games, and more. This could be another topic brought up during this open dialogue forum. Parents, residents, administrators and teachers don’t have to be completely at the mercy of the state. On a local level, the community can come together to identify its priorities and then find ways to turn those priorities into action. Whether it is creating charter schools and potentially opening up another avenue of funding or parents signing a pledge and making a commitment to pay for after-school activities, it’s important that everyone get on the same page and work together. Our schools, our children and our community need unity now more than ever. -------------------------- Auburn Community Forum on Education What: A free community forum to discuss topics in education. No registration necessary. When: 10 a.m. to noon, Saturday Where: State Theater, 985 Lincoln Way, Auburn Information: Call Pam Robie Hart at (530) 823-6799