Letter to the Editor - July 25, 2019
Take a hard look at Richland
Last updated 7/30/2019 at 4:11pm | View PDF
After reading Stan Voth's "Letter to the Editor" in the June 27 Shafter Press, I feel compelled to state a few more facts. The Richland School District is in a sorry state of affairs, with approximately a half-a- million-dollar deficit. The Richland School Board trustees, with a 4-1 vote, just approved the second deficit spending budget in two years. This budget approval included the creation of two new nonteaching positions, shifting money away from classroom instruction.
As enrollment decreases each year, mainly because of the Grimmway charter school, the number of teachers also decreases. Despite these decreases, the Board of Trustees continues to approve the hiring of additional non-teaching District staff. The board has even appointed an interim Superintendent who advocates additional nonteaching positions, diverting more money away from the classrooms and those who work most closely with the students.
Ten years ago, the Kern County Grand Jury recommended that school districts eliminate district-paid health benefits of district trustees. I spoke to this at a Richland School District Board meeting in 2010, but it fell on deaf ears. Each trustee already has health benefits either from their employer, spouse's employer or Medicare. The burden to the budget for additional free health benefits for the trustees this year is approximately $100,000 (or half-a-million dollars over a five-year period). It seems hypocritical, because the Richland School District has some employees that work with the school's students every day yet receive no health benefits. The trustees ignored the Kern County Grand Jury's recommendation and continue to take the health benefits which are a burden to the budget.
During the special board meeting on June 28, the board directed the administration not to replace aging student textbooks this upcoming school year. It's disappointing that the cuts the administration and trustees are willing to make are those closest to the classroom. It appears some of the trustees are not there as advocates "for the students." The citizens of Shafter need to take a serious look at what is happening within the Richland School District.
Mike Svilich is a former Richland School District trustee.