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Dave Brooksher

Redwood Times

Teachers at the Whitethorn School vented frustrations to a sympathetic board of trustees last Thursday in this month’s regularly scheduled meeting. Their complaints included overcrowded classes with two to three grade levels and a general lack of access to technical support for electronics.

The meeting was held in a new portable classroom which is currently in its first year of service. The room features one of the new interactive Promethean boards, which can retail for more than $7,000, but it’s been out of service since October.

Superintendent Catherine Scott pointed out that the nearest certified technician is several hours away in the Bay Area, and trustee Scotty McClure added that taking the hardware to local technicians could void any warranties. Due to the cost and inconvenience involved, superintendent Scott says that in future the district will utilize flat-screens equipped with Apple TV as a less expensive alternative.

The hardware was purchased with restricted funding from Measure L – a $25 million school bond passed by voters in 2010 – but bond funds can only be spent on constructing and equipping school facilities. An IT technician would have to come out of the district’s personnel budget, which is already facing the layoff of 4.7 full-time equivalent positions.

Shelby Messenger, a former teacher at Whitethorn School, quit her job there due to what she describes as overcrowding.

“Just having one grade and one set of standards is challenging. Trying to do three is virtually impossible. You can’t give all the kids what they need all the time. You just can’t,” Messenger said. “I was just looking at an impossible job to do well. I take great pride in my work and in being a good educator. Feeling like I wouldn’t be able to give kids what they needed just made it not worthwhile.”

She still volunteers on campus and is working with the local chapter of Educate Our State to organize support for statewide reform.

“It’s not a district problem – it’s a state problem. This is happening to districts all across California,” Messenger said. “The only change is going to be people standing up and banding together and demanding that we fund public education properly.”

*****

The SHUSD board of trustees also accepted a formal letter of resignation from Michael Hoffman, who has been absent from several recent meetings. Scotty McClure also indicated that he might not run for re-election in the future, so it’s possible that there may be two open seats in the next election cycle.

Superintendent Scott suggested the possibility that due to the difficulty involved in finding new candidates, the board might consider eliminating two of the volunteer positions – reducing the number of trustees from seven to five. McClure enthusiastically opposed that proposition, and several other trustees expressed support for keeping the board’s current seven-member structure intact. The board is currently planning a public-engagement campaign to recruit new trustees in the coming months.”Just having one grade and one set of standards is challenging. Trying to do three is virtually impossible. You can’t give all the kids what they need all the time. You just can’t.”

Shelby Messenger,

Former teacher

Frustrations expressed, school board member resigns

Dave Brooksher

Redwood Times

Teachers at the Whitethorn School vented frustrations to a sympathetic board of trustees last Thursday in this month’s regularly scheduled meeting. Their complaints included overcrowded classes with two to three grade levels and a general lack of access to technical support for electronics.

The meeting was held in a new portable classroom which is currently in its first year of service. The room features one of the new interactive Promethean boards, which can retail for more than $7,000, but it’s been out of service since October.

Superintendent Catherine Scott pointed out that the nearest certified technician is several hours away in the Bay Area, and trustee Scotty McClure added that taking the hardware to local technicians could void any warranties. Due to the cost and inconvenience involved, superintendent Scott says that in future the district will utilize flat-screens equipped with Apple TV as a less expensive alternative.

The hardware was purchased with restricted funding from Measure L – a $25 million school bond passed by voters in 2010 – but bond funds can only be spent on constructing and equipping school facilities. An IT technician would have to come out of the district’s personnel budget, which is already facing the layoff of 4.7 full-time equivalent positions.

Shelby Messenger, a former teacher at Whitethorn School, quit her job there due to what she describes as overcrowding.

“Just having one grade and one set of standards is challenging. Trying to do three is virtually impossible. You can’t give all the kids what they need all the time. You just can’t,” Messenger said. “I was just looking at an impossible job to do well. I take great pride in my work and in being a good educator. Feeling like I wouldn’t be able to give kids what they needed just made it not worthwhile.”

She still volunteers on campus and is working with the local chapter of Educate Our State to organize support for statewide reform.

“It’s not a district problem – it’s a state problem. This is happening to districts all across California,” Messenger said. “The only change is going to be people standing up and banding together and demanding that we fund public education properly.”

*****

The SHUSD board of trustees also accepted a formal letter of resignation from Michael Hoffman, who has been absent from several recent meetings. Scotty McClure also indicated that he might not run for re-election in the future, so it’s possible that there may be two open seats in the next election cycle.

Superintendent Scott suggested the possibility that due to the difficulty involved in finding new candidates, the board might consider eliminating two of the volunteer positions – reducing the number of trustees from seven to five. McClure enthusiastically opposed that proposition, and several other trustees expressed support for keeping the board’s current seven-member structure intact. The board is currently planning a public-engagement campaign to recruit new trustees in the coming months.

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