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Why You Should Vote for Santee School Board

Elana Levens-Craig: "The Santee School Board is in charge of a budget of nearly $45 million (even larger than that of the City of Santee’s budget) and our city’s largest employer."

To the editor:

Why should you vote in the Santee School Board election?

Your local School Board has a huge influence on the quality of our schools and policies they make, and your local vote is just as important as your vote in the national elections. 

The Santee School Board is in charge of a budget of nearly $45 million (even larger than that of the City of Santee’s budget) and our city’s largest employer.  Not only does the Board hire the Superintendent, but they set the priorities and budget to determine how your tax dollars are spent over a complex range of areas: facilities and modernization, instructional materials/curriculum, class size, educational technology, student performance goals, length of school day/year, employee contracts, charter schools, and more.  

Although parents of school age children are more likely to vote in School Board elections, many voters may not understand that all citizens have a vital stake in the excellence of local schools. 

Based on the quality of local schools families decide where to live; educated citizens are less likely to commit crimes and therefore create safer neighborhoods; and corporations and businesses factor school excellence in deciding where to bring higher-paying jobs. This cycle then influences home values and the community’s overall economy.  

Therefore the makeup of the School Board is critical. We need the most informed, skilled and thoughtful citizens serving our students and community. 

Learn about your candidates’ qualifications and where they stand on the issues that concern you on Santee Patch.  

You can learn more about School Boards at www.centerforpubliceducation.org or www.csba.org.

- Elana Levens-Craig, Candidate for Santee School Board Seat #4   

Read more about the candidates for Santee School Board     

Elana Levens-Craig October 31, 2012 at 06:08 PM
I reached out to STA on three separate occasions and encouraged them to hold an informational interview with each candidate and was told that there was not enough time to arrange that. I also contacted SMOAC to ask if school board could be included in the city council/mayoral candidate forum and they preferred to keep it limited. I contacted the Chamber of Commerce, Santee Fire Department, Kiwanis, Rotary and Lions to do a forum and these organizations do not do forums for school board races typically. I asked the PTA Council to consider a forum, but they were already very busy with membership, fall carnivals, and programs at specific school sites. I too am extremely disappointed that we were not able to have a forum or venue in which to share information and qualifications. I would be happy to meet with you and/or Dianne (or any other citizen for that matter) about my candidacy. Please feel free to contact me at info@elana4schoolboard.com. I hope to hear from you.
TDB October 31, 2012 at 08:42 PM
Thanks for this response Ms. Craig! Its nice to hear from you. It sounds like it has been frustrating trying to set up formal forums and gain exposure within the community. I have visited your facebook and info pages and commend you for having such a well-thought-out campaign with regard to social media and web presence. As a teacher, I am asked a few times daily by friends, family, and parents of students whom it is that I support for school board. I have been at a loss this year, because with it being such a critical election I really felt like I wanted that personal touch or contact with the candidates, even in an informal way, a campus visit where we could ask questions, or hear your insight maybe. Its great to see that you are active online and keeping track of community concerns. Being in the trenches, I can tell you it is a grim picture, even with prop 30 funds, devastating without. A few years back we hit critical mass with an unprecedented number of layoffs which didn't help morale and was very disheartening to teachers. I think the biggest fear among the teaching community is another round of devastating layoffs, affecting all of our temporary and probationary teachers, possibly even some tenured. I'd love to hear your thoughts on that issue. I'd also like to know where you stand on progressive issues such as prioritizing technology vs. more traditional textbook learning. What ideas do you have about how education should look even in the worst economic times?
Elana Levens-Craig November 01, 2012 at 09:29 PM
Dianne - After hearing back from the district, I am going to try to give you a short version of what I learned about the dollar amount our district is owed through deferrals. There are many factors that go into the budget figures, but cash flow due to deferrals is a constant concern, which at times requires borrowing from the county to bridge the gap. There are two types of deferrals, intra-year and inter-year, with the latter being the most devastating. Approximately $1.8 million of the amount owed for this year to Santee through the end of October has been shifted to future months. In Santee approximately 38% of the amount owed by the State to us for our largest revenue source, that associated with student attendance, is not paid to us until the following fiscal year. For last year, the total owed to us by the State for student attendance was approximately $21.5 million - $8.3 million of that amount was not paid to us until July, August, and September of this year. In a district our size, I am sure that you can imagine how devastating this can be to the overall budget. I hope that helps to answer your question.
TDB November 01, 2012 at 09:51 PM
* Elana: This is definitely consistent with what we know, though it is only part of a very big picture. What are your thoughts on how to navigate these waters? What would you propose as solutions for keeping all of our teachers without these funds, or are you intending to support staffing cuts to bridge the gap? I have been referring lots of teachers and friends to this thread to get a look at your insights. =)
Elana Levens-Craig November 01, 2012 at 09:53 PM
Thank you for taking the time to do research into my experience and qualifications. I do wish that there had been more opportunities for outreach and will make that adjustment in the future. I feel that having taught in the district allows me to have a unique perspective and understanding that my opponents may not have. Having attended school board meetings both in Santee and GUSHD for the past four years has taught me about the wide range of responsibilities and important decisions made by the school board. With year after year of cuts, I can understand how teacher morale can suffer. I have seen firsthand the excitement and energy that some new teachers bring to the classroom, as well as the expertise of veteran teachers. We definitely don't want to lose any of the talented teachers in our district. As for the textbook issue, while I love to touch the pages of a newspaper each morning, technology is the wave of the future (and may also save some kids' backs in the process). It is our obligation to ensure our students are successful in this changing world. Even in the worst of times, I feel it is crucial for our district to ensure a quality education that addresses the needs of the whole child. We may need to be more creative with community partnerships, after school learning opportunities, creative use of volunteers, school supply drives, increasing student enrollment, and more parental support for our teachers and staff.

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