Readers comments 7.5.13

Unreported news

Dear Editor:

Reported “news” is usually about something that has occurred or is expected to occur. Things that don’t happen rarely get much attention. Consequently, we tend to remain uninformed about non-occurrences, even if they are important.

A case in point is the unreported yet significant news that Claremont Unified School District has managed to get through the worst economic crisis in 75 years without cancelling a single day of instruction. Most of our neighboring districts can’t make that claim, because they opted for furlough days and scaled back teaching in order to accommodate their deteriorating budgets.

How did CUSD avoid sacrificing instructional days while so many other districts were unable to provide 180 days of school every year? There are 2 explanations that warrant attention.

Much of the credit for our school district’s economic stability in recent years is owed to Lisa Shoemaker, CUSD’s assistant superintendent of business services. She has borne the heavy responsibility of deciphering and explaining the perpetual chaos of public school finance and advising CUSD of potential ramifications for our schools.

Ms. Shoemaker has provided best-case scenarios, worst case scenarios, and tentative predictions, based on notoriously unreliable information from Sacramento.  Through all the uncertainty, she has managed to deliver strong functional budgets, and CUSD has suffered less damage than most other school districts in recent years, with no reduction of instruction.

The other notable source of CUSD’s fiscal success, perhaps unexpectedly, is Claremont Faculty Association. Teachers’ unions are not generally viewed as bastions of financial responsibility, but CFA has demonstrated wisdom and discipline throughout the lean years of budgetary constraints. This matters because teachers’ compensation is the largest component of the district’s budget.

Of course, there are always disagreements in contract negotiations. The relationship between the 2 sides is inherently adversarial. But in recent years, CFA and district administrators have developed a degree of mutual trust that has served both sides well.

Labor peace has been maintained, despite larger class sizes, more burdensome workloads and increased payroll deductions for benefits. CFA has held its fire.  The union has also recognized the long- term virtues of CUSD’s relatively large reserve fund. Along similar lines of budgetary concern, CFA recently encouraged CUSD to pay down existing debt with some of the increased revenue that is anticipated from Sacramento.

Clearly, CFA is not a stereotypical union organization, and CUSD is not a stereotypical school district. There is great value in the broad abilities and deep commitments of people in many different roles.

Most importantly, CUSD students benefit from the efforts of everyone involved, even if the positive news doesn’t always make the headlines.

 Dave Nemer



A pathway to citizenship

Dear Editor:

Recently, the US Senate voted 82-15 to proceed with S. 744, the Border Security, Economic Opportunity and Immigration Modernization Act.

The debate on this bill is expected to last for 2 weeks and hundreds of amendments will be considered. Please thank our senators for addressing the crucial issue of immigration reform and urge them to allow immigrants to contribute to the US economy and society by providing them with a clear pathway to citizenship.

 The League of Women Voters was founded upon the belief that our democracy is enhanced by a diversity of voices. Immigrants have helped weave the fabric and identity of our nation. It’s time to help those living in the shadows to become a part of our great nation; we believe that comprehensive immigration reform will strengthen our nation and society.

 Tell our senators that comprehensive immigration reform must:

• Provide a path to citizenship for undocumented persons;

• Promote reunification of families;

• Meet economic business and employment needs of the US;

• Improve safeguards against illegal immigration;

• Provide due process for all persons including the right to a fair hearing.

Thank our Senators for addressing the crucial issue of immigration reform and urge them to allow immigrants to contribute to the US economy and society by providing them with a clear pathway to citizenship.

Ellen Taylor

VP for Advocacy

LWV of the Claremont Area


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