On Tuesday night, the Davis Joint Unified School District school district held its first “virtual town hall meeting.” Superintendent James Hammond, Assistant Superintendent of Business Services Bruce Colby and School Board President Sheila Allen addressed questions parents, teachers and members of the community submitted beforehand.
David Greenwald, publisher of the People’s Vanguard of Davis blog, moderated the multi-media event.
The questions, which were submitted through the Vanguard blog and e-mail, dealt with a variety of topics. Many questions were asked about how the district plans to deal with potential mid-year state budget cuts.
Despite severe state budget cuts at the beginning of the year, the current economic situation might lead to cuts in the mid-year budget for the school district. People who submitted questions asked how cuts would affect programs offered by the schools, the fate of Emerson Junior High School and potential layoffs of teachers and staff.
In response, the school district representatives said that all decisions would be affected by how severe the cuts are and if they even occur. They said that the school board’s priority is giving every student the opportunity for achievement and they will do everything they can to make sure that continues to be possible.
“We don’t have a specific plan but we are very strong on strategy,” Hammond said in response to a question posed by Greenwald. “Through the process we’ll handle it fine.“
Also, they said that the funds from the parcel taxes – Measure Q in 2007 and Measure W in 2008 – should guarantee that the specific programs supported by each measure will continue. There will likely have to be cuts somewhere, but the district is trying to avoid layoffs if possible. They said that by leaving positions unfilled and retaining some money in the general fund, DJUSD is in a better place than many other districts to weather whatever comes.
As for Emerson, Allen said no decision has been made. The school board will continue to take input from the community at upcoming meetings and through other sources.
All three representatives encouraged community input on all issues. In fact, the meeting was created to help foster that communication between the school district and the community, according to Greenwald.
“Transparency is one of the biggest objectives with the Vanguard and the district is clearly committed to that principle,” Greenwald said. “It is very nice to live in a community that has a high degree of interest and support for education and it is equally nice to see the district able to step up and provide the level of transparency and accountability this community deserves.“
To ask further questions, or give your own input, the representatives said to call Hammond in his office at 757-5300 ex. 142.
The meeting was broadcast Wednesday on 95.7 KDRT and will be on Davis Community Television, local channel 15, today at 7 p.m. It will be broadcast again on DCTV several times throughout the weekend and early next week. Streaming video will also be on Davis Vanguard’s blog, davisvanguard.blogspot.com, when it becomes available.
ELYSSA THOME can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.