Recently, I was shocked to learn that theSuperintendent and Board of Trustees have decided to increase class sizes, without requesting funding help from the
This has all been happening very quietly, without much public awareness. Did you know that, in the past year, K-3 class size increased from its historical level of 19-20 kids to 24 kids?
I understand that we are in a tough budget environment, but when money is tight, I cannot understand the district’s priorities.
The LGEF has raised more than $800,000 this year, so far. The money has historically been granted to the district to cover teacher salaries, science programs, music and art programs, as well as district training and development.
This money could easily be applied to hiring teachers, but the district has decided to place a higher priority on art and music programs than on class-size reduction.
It gets worse: The district would like to take $300-400K in art/music grants from LGEF, and they’re asking LGEF to put another $300-400K “in reserve.” This means that while our class sizes are increasing, we would stash money in the bank for a rainy day. The conclusion is that the district considers the “reserve” to be more important than class size.
During the March 8 LGEF meeting at the JCC, I went ballistic when I heard the the superintendent say that “the top priority is keeping our teachers happy.” She was trying to make a point that we can’t hire more teachers, because if we don’t have a reserve, we might have to lay them off again. I lost my cool and shouted at her that “the KIDS are the top priority, not the teachers.”
In every survey I’ve seen during the last 15 years, the top priority for LGUSD parents has been the quality of core academics. Class size is mentioned more than any enrichment program, in last month’s LGUSD parent-teacher survey. It’s time for Los Gatos parents to wake up and get involved in these policy decisions … We cannot allow our schools to degrade while we hope for a perfect world.
—This letter was written by Joe Madden, a parent of several children who attend LGUSD schools. Madden is also a former LGEF board member, Scout leader and coach.