Borrego Sun - Since 1949

A Word From the BSUSD Superintendent...


Last updated 6/1/2020 at 12:29pm

Hello Borrego Family,

It’s been a difficult month for our little District. With the Governor’s recent budget proposal, we are now looking at cuts again to education. But more than that, it has been emotionally draining without our students. Perhaps I am simply projecting my own feelings. Let me explain.

The other day, after answering the umpteenth email, I stood up and wanted more than anything to just walk around campus and visit classrooms. I wanted to interact with students and remind myself of why I’m here and what this job is all about. But I couldn’t do that. No one is here. The campus is empty. This may be the most difficult part of this whole crisis. We have lost some of that human connection that is so fundamental to us. I realize that this is a small price to pay for our students’ safety and that I shouldn’t be complaining when others are going through such hard times. I just want our community to recognize that our work, the work of an educator, is motivated by the everyday positive impacts that we make in children’s lives. It is difficult without the smiles, the laughter, and even the high school drama that we are so accustomed to.

Yet, we have a lot to celebrate. BSUSD was one of the first school districts in San Diego County to transition to online learning. Our teachers did a fantastic job at pivoting to this new learning format and getting the materials and tools needed out to students. All of our staff members are engaged in this process. Our bus drivers are delivering supplies. Our instructional aides are preparing materials and helping teachers in their online environments. All of our employees are still hard at work.

And then the bomb drops: Schools will be cut 10% of their budgets for next year! I won’t bore you with details about school finance, but let’s just say that it’s difficult to just make a 10% reduction. 85% of our budget is salaries and benefits, or in other words, people. That should be obvious as education is a people-intensive industry. The rest of the budget goes to books, supplies, contracts, facilities, you know, keeping the lights on. A reduction of this magnitude is frightening, especially when you throw in the fact that we just learned about it on May 14 and the cuts start July 1. So what do you do?

First you prepare. You plan. You create a new budget. You look at reserves. You look at hiring. All of it. And then you wait. Why wait? Because you don’t even know if the Governor is serious or not. If you’ve been around the block a few times, you know that politics are a game. They say one thing and then do another. The State has A LOT of flexibility when it comes to their budget. They can move money around if they want to and the final budget doesn’t have to be approved until the end of the year (June 30). The Governor might be trying to put pressure on Washington to get stimulus money, like they did back in the end of the last decade. Or he might be saying “look how terrible this is” just to come in later and save the day to look like a hero. In any case, now it’s a waiting game.

We are prepared to weather this storm. We’ve been through it before and we’ve learned our lesson. Unfortunately, cutting schools is now something of an expectation if you work in California. The problem is that we’re so easy to cut. They say how much your budget is and we say OK. You see, we’re in it for the students. We’ll do whatever we have to do and we’ll do it well. The hardest part right now is that the COVID crisis has created a “distance” from our students. Some of our neediest kids are not logging on or doing their work. It’s as if they are just gone. We’re reaching out and even doing home visits with little results. We need to be able to open our campuses to provide an environment conducive to learning. I have personally asked our County Health Department if we could provide some small group instruction and they said no. So that’s just another thing we’ll have to wait for.

Mark Stevens

– BSUSD Superintendent

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