Explore options before laying off Cottage Hill music teacher
March 17, 2014
“They have to make the responsible decision” and lay off our music teacher at Cottage Hill School, the board for the Pleasant Ridge School District decided this week.
Battling a quarter-million budget deficit, burdened by the California State Law that requires the district to pay $200,000 this school year for the expense to educate a single special-needs child, the plan to add an $80,000 program administrator for another 35 special-needs children, something had to give.
I respect the efforts and time commitment of our all-volunteer board. However, I do believe that our school leadership is stuck in a mindset of past decades.
Revenues for the school are determined by attendance. Eliminating teachers and programs that parents value will only accelerate the decline of the school in the long term. Parents have many choices now. Free public charter schools, structured home-school programs, private schools, academies and Christian schools are all competing for students.
In order to attract students, schools have to offer parents something of value. We are talking about an elementary school here. In addition to small class sizes, parents value music and art to provide a well-rounded education for their young children. At a per-student funding of approximately $8,000 per school year, it only takes a few families to decide to enroll their children in Cottage Hill School to generate enough revenue to support the teacher’s salary.
I urge our leadership to explore other options (maybe consolidating side-by-side administrative offices) and rescind the pink slip for our highly valued music teacher at Cottage Hill School.
Ulrike Lapkass lives in Lake of the Pines.