The Napa Valley Unified School District has an approximate $3 million shortfall in the $189 million budget. It has been proposed that the district close some of the four smallest elementary schools in order to allow the district to balance the budget. I find this out of the question. I am giving a 'no' vote and I will tell you why.
All of these schools are performing well. The teachers, parents, and most importantly, the students love and value these schools. We all know from experience that most of us are more comfortable in a small environment.
Research shows student achievement in a small school is at least equal, and often superior, to student achievement in bigger schools. Student attitudes toward school, in general, are better in small schools. Student behavior in small schools shows lower incidents of negative social behavior than in the larger schools.
Closing these schools will mean a huge disruption for all involved. Parents will have to make new arrangements for transportation and child care. The students will have a major adjustment to the new larger environment. The teachers will be moved or possibly eliminated.
What will happen to the sites themselves? Certainly the money generated from the sale of the land when properly invested will generate much more than the $3 million per year. This is the Napa Valley, dirt is expensive.
The problem here is not NVUSD but it is the priority this nation and the state of California puts on quality education. This is not the first time NVUSD has had budget problems. We have all seen the task forces and the uproar more than once regarding the fact we don’t have the money to properly run a high quality educational program for our young people.
Do people understand that our younger generation is our future? We as a nation are always putting education on the back burner.
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I have done some research on how we stack up as a nation around the world. As far as spending on education goes, we as a nation spend an average of approximately $12,800 tax dollars per student per year. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) reported that the United States was one of only five countries in the OECD to cut education funding. The OECD reported in 2017 that education spending in the U.S. decreased 3 percent between 2010 and 2014 while in other nations' spending was up 5 percent.
In California, we spend on average $10,329 per student and rank 26th among the other states. In total, that is 3.58 percent of California’s Gross Domestic Product. This doesn’t make our schools a very high priority.
You answer the question. Shouldn’t they be? California is the fifth richest economy in the world. Shouldn’t we be able to keep these smaller schools open?
I have been involved in education all of my adult life. I have been a teacher in both elementary and high school, been an administrator in the NVUSD, been a principal on an Indian reservation, taught overseas in Asia and Europe. Recently I have been mentoring new teachers around the Bay Area. I am not new to this business and I know this: the student-centered communities at these small elementary schools deserve to stay and continue to thrive.
There are some smart people in the NVUSD district office. They read research, too. I am surprised they came up with this remedy to the current budget problem. Hopefully with some more careful examination of the issues and the current financial situation they will save these schools. Once they are gone, it is probably forever.