Tuesday, April 4, 2017

[Solano County] Letters – Mary Washington: School daze

Blog note: this letter references four grand jury reports about poor conditions and poor safety in Vallejo schools.
There are so many things that people don’t know about the Vallejo school district. There is tremendous waste in spending on first class trips and hotels. Just recently the last superintendent, Ramona Bishop, took several people to San Diego including parents and students. The financial reports came in that she spent thousands on that one trip alone. All of this when teachers often find it difficult to pay for their own classroom supplies. In other news, the 2016-2017 deficit is now $695,000. By 2018-19 the projection is a deficit anticipated of $5.2 million, due to inappropriate spending and union cost increases.
There have been four grand jury reports about the poor conditions and poor safety in Vallejo schools. Teachers have been badly beaten by students, often hospitalized — and nothing is ever done. There is no accountability for these students; there is little structure and no discipline.
There are fights on school campuses, armed robberies, and other violence. There was even a murder near Jesse Bethel High School. Bishop and her colleagues did not attend the young boy’s funeral. Under-qualified and unqualified friends of Ms. Bishop, along with their relatives, are hired frequently, and there are too many lawsuits against the school district to mention. Taxpayers would be shocked at the lawsuit settlements alone.
Vallejo schools have devolved to the second lowest in the state, only out-classed by the Oakland School District, which is the lowest. We should not forget that Vallejo High School is on academic probation as well.
It is a fact that many parents are desperate to get their children out of Vallejo public schools, with the exception perhaps of the Charter Schools or some elementary schools such as Cave Language Academy. Once they enroll their children, it is virtually impossible to get them out of Vallejo. The school district resists heavily unless people move from the district. Why? They want the average daily attendance monies those bodies in the seats provide. That is why many newcomers find bogus addresses in American Canyon, Pinole or Benicia in the first place and never enroll their children here. Teachers are afraid to come to this district and the administration is so top heavy that it is ridiculous. The administrative salaries are abhorrent, and the teachers’ salaries are an embarrassment. It is particularly insulting when teachers have out-of-control students and can do nothing to structure them, often losing their health in the process.
Moreover, in case you don’t know it, taxpayers are still paying for the monies that went bye-bye when some people such as Rozanna Verder-Aliga and Bill Pendergast were president and vice president of the school board. Check your property tax bills if you don’t believe that one. Some $60 million was misappropriated causing a state bailout of the same amount in the early 2000s. All of this was under the reigns of the then superintendent Gladys Phillips Evans. Surprisingly, no one went to jail. This was possibly because we had an extremely weak county district attorney at that time. Now we are witnessing that same method of over-spending and financial neglect within the school district.
The list goes on and on. So don’t cry for Bishop, Argentina. The truth is she never left you because you will be paying taxes for the schools for a very long time. Hopefully, in the near future, more reasonable thinkers will soon take over the helm of Vallejo schools. Property values will increase with better schools, but quite frankly this district is so bad right now that it will take years for us to see any improvement.
Bravo to the current Board of Trustees Cayangyang, Kearney-Brown and Lawson. They did the right thing in deciding to change directions before another state bailout would be mandated. Thanks go out to them for having the courage to act, and act fast which ultimately might well block another state takeover.
March 31, 2017
Letter foreman Mary Washington, Vallejo

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