My name is Jay Steiger and I am running for the La Mesa Spring Valley School District Board to bring a new voice and new energy to this district.
I am a parent of two children attending schools in this district. Ever since my youngest child started Kindergarten I have been involved in the classroom and at school. I have had the privilege of representing parent concerns on the La Mesa Spring Valley School District Budget Study Committee for nearly five years and have been involved with the PTA at a school and district level for even longer.
During the past four years, this district has endured repeated and deep cuts to the education budget allotted by the State of California. This has resulted in larger class sizes, reduced programs, teachers and staff laid off, a shortened school year, and voluntary salary reductions. In spite of this, teachers are working hard and children are learning. There are many wonderful examples of classroom and school success happening around the district, but unfortunately the bad budget news is what seems to be the thing people remember.
Despite the growth in learning, some of the high performing schools in this district are now losing increasing numbers of students to local charter schools. Why? Because too many parents have lost confidence in our schools and our district.
While I understand that the current La Mesa Spring Valley board has faced difficult financial circumstances and has worked to ensure solvency; finance alone is not the sole duty of the board. In fact one of the central expectations of school board members is to be visible public representatives of the district to the local community, and in particular the parent community. Visiting school sites or PTA meetings should not occur only during an election season, they should happen as a common matter of course. Unfortunately the school and PTA meeting visits of the current board are few and far between.
To restore parent confidence and active engagement with this district it is vital that board members move beyond the boardroom meetings to regularly visit schools, meet with parents, and both encourage community awareness of budget challenges and at the same time celebrate publicly the district and school success stories.
This district has a well deserved historical reputation for good schools. People would often move to this area so they could enroll their children. While we have much of which to be proud, we must not coast on our reputation. If we are losing parents from high performing schools, it is absolutely necessary that the board to ask why and take steps to restore the parental confidence to help retain those students.
I have been a classroom volunteer and understand first hand both the challenges teachers face and the wonderful learning that takes place in class. As a PTA leader I have visited schools across this district, meeting diverse groups of parents who share a common focus, the best education possible for their children. I have also met with state legislators locally and in Sacramento to call for an end to educational budget cuts and a restoration of necessary school funding. I will sign no pledges to outside political organizations because my special interest group is the children of this district. As a school board member I will make it my priority to visit every school in this district. I will have an open door policy for parents, teachers, and members of the community at large.
As this district moves forward, we must not allow boardroom complacency to chart our course. Improving test results is important, and I celebrate the good news of our accomplishments this year. However, test scores alone are not the full measure of an education or a school. To restore public confidence we cannot simply engage in a testing competition with the local charter schools. This district must demonstrate how it offers a dynamic and comprehensive education and schools with unique character and enrichment.
Strong schools mean strong communities. By engaging our parents and community we will invest in education. This education will give our children the future they deserve, grow our economy, and strengthen our local neighborhoods.
I will be an active voice for our children, parents, and schools and I would be honored to have your vote on November 6th.