Sunday, January 22, 2012

Mr. and Mrs. B go to Sacramento.

Janis and I are going to go to Sacramento, along with about 200 other Southern Humboldt School District representatives.
From California watch:  In protest of state budget cuts that threaten school busing, representatives from the Southern Humboldt Unified School District are traveling to Sacramento to meet with their state lawmakers, Assemblyman Wesley Chesbro, D-Eureka, and Sen. Noreen Evans, D-Santa Rosa. The district anticipates a large turnout of students and families and welcomes other districts to join them.
"At Southern Humboldt Unified, Stewart hopes the district can siphon enough money from the classroom to provide some bus service, but it won't be "anything near" the 11 routes it offers now, he said. It also will consider charging students who are not low-income to ride the bus and ask families to carpool.
"There's really not many viable alternatives than, say, driving your kids to school," Stewart said. "When you talk about driving an hour to bring your kid to school and then you've got to drive an hour home, that's two hours, and you've got to repeat that in the afternoon. … We're talking a huge expense."
Stewart predicts that without bus service, attendance will fall, hurting funding even more.
"It's kind of a snowball," he said. "We can't get them here because we have no money, they can't get here, we have less money, and on and on." 
The school district is making a government field trip for the students out of the trip to Sacramento. I understand that the students are writing essays on why they should be chosen. A lot of parents and school representatives are going along. Long time school board member Dennis O'Sullivan and other school district officials will be meeting with Wes Chesbro. Other people involved with the trip to the capitol seem to be well organized. I, however, am still a little bit confused as to our function on the trip. I am deeply troubled by the damage that not having busing in southern Humboldt will do to our small tight-knit community. More on the damage later. I am going mostly to come up to speed on the possibility to save our community for certain disaster for some local families. It is heart wrenching, in these poor economic times, to see people losing their jobs. If nothing else, I want to go along to Sacramento to empathize with the people most affected. Like I said, I'm deeply troubled by the whole darn situation.

I understand that about 47 people have been given lay-off notices. I have heard that some of them have already found other jobs, but even if they have, that is a job that somebody else won't be getting. 47 families without employment is not good. The job loss has far reaching impact to the local business and housing prices.

The students that are being bused to school will have to find other means to get there. Some have drivers licenses, but they can't drive other kids until they are old enough to have passengers. So, students can't even give their siblings a ride to school. The students that have trouble getting to school anyway may drop out. Some parents may move closer to a school in another city, that won't help our struggling school district, they already have declining enrollment.

One other big problem that I see, is the kids that already come to school hungry and malnourished. They either come from poor or neglectful families. The community has already been providing a "back-pack" program for those kids. The back-packs are filled will nutritional food that gets them through the week. It's hard for a student to learn when they are hungry. I'm not sure what will happen to those kids if there is no way to get them to school.

I'm mostly discouraged by the fact that our politicians seem to have their own priorities and I have never seen much good come out of meeting with them. Maybe I'm cynical, so I'm going with a positive attitude that we can make a difference. I personally know many of the people losing their jobs. They are generous and caring people that have helped the community in so very many touching ways that I don't know where to even begin.  So, even though I don't have much hope, My wife and I owe it to these people to at least make a showing at Sacramento.

We are taking our own car, so we will be able to stop and go when we chose. Janis will take her camera and do some photo's for posterity. We don't intend to be in anybodies face. If the cops tell us to put the camera down, we will. I don't intend to risk Janis having her camera mistaken for a gun and slammed into her face like Felix Omai. And, I don't intend to be anywhere near pepper spray. If a cop tells me to "disperse" I will run in as many directions as I can. I am actually looking forward to the experience! If you are going, we'll see you there!


Ernie Branscomb said...

From Noreen Evans' office

Friday, January 20, 2012
Bill Would Restore Funds for Home-to-School Transportation

SACRAMENTO – Senator Noreen Evans (D-Santa Rosa), a member of the Senate Committee on Budget and Fiscal Review, announced today her strong support for a committee bill, SB 81, which would restore $248 million to the Home-to-School Transportation Fund, upon which children in rural areas, children of color and low income children were disproportionately denied in the 2011 state budget.

“Children can’t learn if they can’t get to school,” said Evans whose district largely consists of rural school districts dependent on the funds to get kids to school. “I am pleased that both houses are working in tandem to provide all children equal access to a quality education.”

School districts throughout the state have been in a panic since the 2011 budget trigger cuts were implemented. Schools that rely on home to school transportation programs to get kids into the classroom each day, in order to receive their ADA funds, were hit twice by the cut and have been preparing for “Armageddon” if the funds are not restored.

SB 81 was introduced by the Committee on Budget and Fiscal Review, of which Evans is a member. The bill would shift funds to restore a small level of funding for home-to-school transportation.

State Senator Noreen Evans represents the Second Senatorial District, including all or portions of the Counties of Humboldt, Lake, Mendocino, Napa, Solano, and Sonoma. Senator Evans Chairs the Legislative Women’s Caucus and the Committee on Judiciary.

Ernie Branscomb said...

From Wes Chesbro's office

"I applaud Governor Brown's optimism for California's future as he expressed it in his speech today. But I am disappointed the governor failed to address the problems facing the North Coast. He needs to pay more attention to how some of his proposals affect rural California. He didn't address the new unfair fire fees imposed on rural residents. And he didn’t address the hardship caused by eliminating funding for school buses in rural school districts. These are inequities that need to be resolved.

Robin Shelley said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Robin Shelley said...

Senator Evans has been known to put up a good fight. I'm sure she has a much better idea of how far-flung your school district is than the governor does. She probably has a better idea of the definition of "rural" than he does, too. Good luck!

spyrock said...

nonedstrange to see this after that last blog. my grandfather left his 640 acres in spyrock so my mother could go to high school. that's why i live where i still live rather than spyrock. back then they built their own schools and the families got together to pay the teacher's salery. there were no buses. my mom and uncle had a white mule and that mule would take them a mile to school but wouldn't go one step further. most kids rode horseback or walked for miles to school up there. so my mom continued her education down here, went to san francisco state and became a teacher, then a principal and finally a county school board member. she even has a school named after her. i get my politics from her. she was probably the most influential person in this area when it came to getting things done to help educate the children. she even helped create a new university of california here. so politics is a question of priorities for me. i would rather see every kid get all the education they want than build more prisons to lock up pot smokers or find more reasons to invade more countrys. i guess iran is next on the list. i hear a lot about trying to eradicate bullying in the schools but everyone is ok with the usa bullying the world. my dad used to work for my mom's school for free. and they had big pta meetings in those days. sounds like you might have to get the community involved in busing and mail delivery up there. good luck talking to the head bully in sacramento.

Kym said...

Ernie, I'm glad you and Janice are going. I wish I could be there.

Cinnamon O'Neill Paula said... Governor Brown do you plan to support SB81. the recent trigger cuts in California are devastating rural school districts, while others feel next to nothing. Southern Humboldt Unified School District is going to lose our entire transportation department on February 17, 2012 if we do not get SB81 approved. Other school districts are laying off teachers to keep their buses! There's nothing left to cut from our schools. On top of this, I am trying to organize a supply drive for our school. We are out paper, pencils, glue, etc with no money to buy more. I volunteer at least once a week because our student to teacher ratio is 30-40+ to 1. I can't give anymore. We are tapped out. The state needs to get its priorities straight. You can read more about our movement to help education thrive, not starve on Bus Stop to Nowhere- Southern Humboldt Chapter.

It was great to have you in Sacramento, thank you so much for coming!

Anonymous said...

How about you all pay your taxes? That might help cover the costs of the buses. Or, since you all have never really paid any taxes, why don't you all just give a portion of your income directly to the schools? Maybe you just make one less trip to
Cabo per season?