The LookOut Letters to the Editor
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School Officials Laugh Off "Disaster;" God Help Our Kids

As an involved community member and active PTA dad for years I am shocked but not surprised by the lack of concern, fear or outrage at the financial "disaster" yet again facing our school district.

While our Superintendent recently dropped this bomb on the Presidents of the Santa Monica/Malibu PTAs and area Council Board and the press obtained and wrote about an internal communication announcing the "disaster," this past Thursday's school board meeting was a lovefest as usual.

True the item was not agendized and therefore the subject could not formally be discussed. But, the public can comment on anything under the Board's perview in public comments.

Only one parent referred to the issue saying, "You better invest in Santa Monica High or you may lose more students" adding to the shortfall.

Representatives who report and comment on whatever they wish from the Teachers Association, the S.E.I.U. Board and the Santa Monica/Malibu Education Foundation had nothing to say about this "disaster."

The PTA Council president, Rick Gates, pointed out the problem of state funding trailing most of the nation and joked that the Council would be spending time "out there looking for more students." Laughter.

The financial oversight committee representative, Neil Carey, spoke about the committee's work and what great people he was working with and that he wished he had a school budget that people at the racetrack could understand before "downing their third beer." More laughter.

He expressed that they are not the Little Hoover Commission and would not be looking for fraud or looking for things that don't exist. Nodding heads.

How does he know this?

He suggests that they need to see that money is spent properly and put this issue to rest and that the oversight be short-lived and not ongoing. More nodding heads.

Concluding this report he stated this would be the last thing he worked on with the district and would move on to city issues. Grins all around.

It is my belief that this committee formed secretly by the Superintendent and meeting secretly does nothing to address the publics need to know that this district is committed to proper management of resources and is accountable.

Strong words, I know, but consider that one cannot trust this elected School Board to do this oversight. Proof of this for me is when one School Board member, Dorothy Chapman reminded the Superintendent she had sent him a list of questions about this "disaster" and without missing a beat the Board President interjected she had seen the list and instructed the Superintendent to not respond as it would take too much of the staff's time to answer them.

An informed Board is apparently not encouraged or allowed. I am ashamed of this district and apologize to the parents and taxpayers in Santa Monica and Malibu.
There are people who care (somewhere) about our children's education and I
ask them to not give up. Demand accountability and excellence.

Attend a School Board meeting and observe. This past meeting should have been somber and reflective. Instead it was business as usual -- a virtual love fest of humor and laughter.

God help our kids.

David Cole
Santa Monica


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