Parents and community members came ready to speak at Wednesday night’s school board meeting about various programmatic changes that would better prepare Redwood City students for real-world situations. Among the topics were project-based learning, a Spanish Immersion school and difficult wait lists.
Despite these tangible goals, the district is in a constant tangle with the state, which predicts a shortfall of roughly $9.2 billion for next year’s budget. The budget hinges on on the November ballot. If the measures are not passed, public school funding would be slashed by $5.2 million, with $4.8 billion to K-12 education and community colleges.
The onus then falls on local districts, which won’t receive 62 percent of their payments from the state until July. Consequently, the district cannot pay all its bills or staff and must resort to borrowing money, resulting in high interest payments.
“We must make the best of a bad hand that was dealt to us on the state level,” said trustee Shelly Masur.
Upon the district’s fifth year without raises for its teachers and staff, Wednesday’s board meeting focused heavily on thanking those who have endured the recent hardships imposed by the government and awarded 28 members of staff who have been with the district for 20 plus years.
The district also continued discussions regarding potential programmatic changes, including expanding from K-6 to K-8. In May 2011, the board from K-5 to K-6.
Parents and students of Roosevelt spoke at the meeting, praising the PBL program for its teaching of life skills such as strategizing, leadership skills, and conflict resolution to PBL students. The project-based learning program for instilling creativity and critical thinking skills in students.
“Families who want PBL in middle school, will get PBL in middle school,” said Masur, reassuring anxious parents and students.
Masur further suggested that the PBL program be introduced to all the schools across the district, because the schools are currently not preparing students for future careers.
While the idea of a new K-8 school, possibly Spanish immersion, being introduced to the district was proposed, it is still far in the future for the district, as budget shortfall prohibits the establishment of an entirely new school, the district said. However, the school board came to the consensus that the district will remain mixed as far as grade configuration.
And without the syncing of K-8 schools throughout the district, the need for more viable middle schools moving arose, as did the perpetual desire for smaller class sizes, and the issue of of the school district.
“We’re trying to move 27 moving parts,” said board member Dennis McBride. “If we make a decision in one, it impacts all the others.”