Setback for Structural Reform in WCCUSD

The County Committee as I thought (at the last minute) go­ing into this, in­deed thwarted our ini­tia­tive for struc­tural re­form of the West Contra Costa Unified School District…for now. Here are the news links:

Basically, we were deal­ing with sit­u­a­tion where the County Committee on Reorganization thinks that a pro­posal should be judged, not on its own mer­its, but by its pos­si­ble im­pact on a sep­a­rate mea­sure on the November bal­lot, the par­cel tax. Since I sup­port the par­cel tax, this is more of a philo­soph­i­cal prob­lem for me, but still a trou­ble­some one.

Dr. Harter, the su­per­in­ten­dent, sur­prised us by go­ing off the mes­sage, “bad for par­cel tax,” into a full-bore at­tack on the con­cept it­self. He had not filed a re­port for “WCCUSD” be­fore­hand as re­quested. (The District has ac­tu­ally never taken a for­mal po­si­tion on trustee ar­eas as such.) Instead he only sub­mit­ted his stro­bo­scopic pow­er­points at the meet­ing, so that there would be no mean­ing­ful op­por­tu­nity to re­but the at­tacks. I’m still wait­ing for a copy of these pre­sen­ta­tions. Both Torlakson and Hancock sent mes­sages pro­fess­ing ag­nos­ti­cism on the is­sue, but stress­ing a de­sire to keep trustee ar­eas off the November bal­lot to help the par­cel tax.

In terms of the com­ment part, there was of course our sup­port­ers. The op­po­nents were di­vided into “trustee ar­eas bad” and “keep it off the bal­lot for the par­cel tax” peo­ple. Andres Soto sup­ported the idea for the City of Richmond and WCCUSD, but didn’t like the map — he said it was ger­ry­man­dered with­out spec­i­fy­ing what he meant by that. (The adop­tion of a map is ac­tu­ally a sep­a­rate stage. We have to pro­pose a map to start off.)

Here are my notes of what the County Committee mem­bers said on a mo­tion to deny our pe­ti­tion:

Pam Mirabella
Must con­sider many dif­fer­ent pos­si­bil­i­ties for im­prov­ing things in WCCUSD in­clud­ing trustee ar­eas
Held out pos­si­bil­ity of fu­ture meet­ings to dis­cuss these
*Yes

Daniel Gomez
If it’s not bro­ken, don’t fix it
Impressed that WCCUSD is fine based on Harter pre­sen­ta­tion
*Yes — would ac­tu­ally deny on its mer­its

Daniel Borsuk
Accepted pe­ti­tion­ers claims
Rejected bal­lot con­fu­sion ar­gu­ment
*No — would ac­cept November bal­lot or as di­rect im­ple­men­ta­tion of trustee ar­eas by County Committee

David Kraft
Remembered Hercules se­ces­sion­ist alien­ation
Agreed that would be detri­men­tal to par­cel tax on bal­lot
Concerned about balka­niza­tion
*Yes

Glen Ruley
Why take a chance on par­cel tax fail­ing?
Postpone dis­cus­sion till next year
*Yes

What Now

Instead of be­ing on the bal­lot as a mea­sure in November, can­di­dates who sup­port trustee ar­eas, such as my­self, will make it an is­sue in the Board elec­tion cam­paign. We will also con­tinue to work with the County Committee to give trustee ar­eas a fairer hear­ing.

Trustee Elections Hearing Tonight!

Only an hour or so to go till the hear­ing for WCCUSD trustee ar­eas (West County schools may shift elec­tions) and I have to say the odds are cer­tainly stacked against us. The County Board has a pat­tern of say­ing no to cit­i­zen pe­ti­tions. And for this type of de­ci­sion there seem to be ab­solutely no guide­lines for how the Board de­cides. This makes it eas­ier to just rely on ar­bi­trary tal­lies for emails “for,” “against,” (when “against” could be just to not have it on the same bal­lot as the par­cel tax), “com­mu­nity per­sons”, “com­mu­nity lead­ers,” and on ad nau­seam. Or who knows what?

One other side is­sue that I think might be work­ing here is a con­cern by the County Board to sup­port the Superintendent, Harter, at any cost. I think they ac­cept that our dis­trict is messed up, but in their model hav­ing a new su­per­in­ten­dent ride in on his horse will al­ways save the day if only he’s given a lit­tle time. He wants our pro­posal off the November bal­lot that has his par­cel tax on it, so it’ll have to be re­moved. The prob­lem with this model is that the su­per­in­ten­dent is not in­de­pen­dent but takes or­ders from a very as­sertive board ma­jor­ity fac­tion in a dys­func­tional po­lit­i­cal cul­ture. Leaving the su­per­in­ten­dent to fix things is not go­ing to fix things.

Well, on the other hand, I could be wrong. The peo­ple may be per­mit­ted to de­cide for them­selves in November.

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WCCUSD Trustee Area Election Impact on Board

The County Board of Education will meet to con­sider the pro­posal to put trustee area elec­tions on the bal­lot, so I guess it’s time to start blog­ging again.

— — — — — — — — -

For con­sid­er­ing the trustee area is­sue for WCCUSD, I have re­vised my Google map mashup show­ing the lo­ca­tions of WCCUSD Board mem­bers’ listed res­i­dences in the District:

http://maps.yourgmap.com/v/2_​kf_​WCCUSD_​Board_​Members_​o_June_2008.html

(I’m work­ing on in­te­grat­ing the pro­posed trustee area bound­aries di­rectly into the map, but for now here’s the trustee area map for ref­er­ence: http://districtguide.org/image/ProposedTrusteePopulation.jpg .)

The leg­end in the Google-based map shows what pro­posed trustee ar­eas the cur­rent trustees are in and their term ends. Karen Pfeifer (area 4) and Dave Brown (area 2) are up for re-elec­tion this year. There would be many per­mu­ta­tions pos­si­ble if trustee ar­eas were to be im­ple­mented, but here’s the ba­sic sit­u­a­tion. If any­one from area 2 is elected this year, Audrey Miles would not be able to run in 2010. If any­one from area 4 is elected, nei­ther Madeline Kronenberg nor Charles Ramsey would be able to run in 2010. If no one from area 4 is elected, Madeline Kronenberg and Charles Ramsey could both run in 2010, but only one could be elected in 2010.

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