Mike Canada

Question:

“What do you see as the three most important (long term or short term) issues facing public education, specifically in Coronado Unified School District?”

Answer:

My first concern is CUSD’s budget. Maintaining the three percent surplus is imperative to keep our school district under local control. However, CUSD has borrowed twelve million dollars, using Village Elementary as collateral, and leased the Early Childhood Development Center facilities to the Navy just to keep solvent. Eighty three percent of CUSD’s budget goes to salaries and benefits for its 350 employees. To further complicate matters, CUSD has experienced a 15 percent drop in enrollment, with nearly a quarter of those losses occurring at the elementary school level. Sadly, CUSD’s current financial state is a product of deficit spending, rather a than reflection of good financial management.

So, what can be done? First, we need to take a frank look at CUSD’s balance sheets. Furthermore, Basic Aid (presumably starting in 2026) may not be the panacea to treat CUSD’s financial ails. CUSD needs to cut expenditures and look to alternative funding. Second, CUSD needs a solid plan to get our children back into the classroom safely. The district also needs to win back families who have taken their children out of the district. Despite Covid-19 restrictions, other schools in San Diego County have successfully transitioned to in-class teaching. CUSD should look to these school to see how they planned and prepared. Third, for those parents and children who are not ready to get back into the classroom, CUSD should continue distance and hybrid learning through its online curriculum. This will not only serve our current students; it has the potential to attract students from outside our district to enroll in our schools thus, helping to further increase our district’s funding.

My next concern is the curriculum. We need to take a good look at what’s being taught in the classroom. Yes, the state mandates what material can and can’t be taught however, parents need to get involved and see what’s being taught to our students. Many of the parents I’ve spoken to want a rigorous, sensible and creative academic curriculum, not gimmicks and personal viewpoints. With recent statistics revealing that only 40 percent of our seniors are ready for UC and Cal. State matriculation, the district must do better.

Therefore, CUSD needs to focus on curriculum that fosters a strong foundation in English, mathematics, STEM, the arts and, music. Additionally, students deserve a well-balanced perspective on history, not propagandized commentary. CUSD needs board members with experience in curriculum development and its implementation. As a board member, I’ll take a hard look at policy, course materials, content and use the board member privilege to visit classrooms to work with teachers to ascertain what the students require to be successful. We need to ensure that our students become well educated and informed critical thinkers who will be prepared for life’s challenges.

Finally, teaching our children how to treat others with respect is paramount. No child should ever feel embarrassed or be harassed regarding any aspect of their personage; whether it’s their race, creed, sex, orientation, disability or socioeconomic status. Nevertheless, it’s no surprise that bullying occurs in our schools. Social media and other outside influences are pervasive on our campuses, which, I believe, contributes to disciplinary problems.

We need straight forward, grade level appropriate, effective and, fair-minded disciplinary practices (not five-page matrices), particularly in middle school and high school, to deal with inappropriate and disruptive behavior. If a student bullies another or becomes disruptive in class, teachers and administrators need to take swift and appropriate action, up to and including suspension and expulsion. Students need to understand that there are consequences for bullying and all other inappropriate or disruptive behaviors. CUSD’s board needs to foster a safe environment for all students to learn, be accepted and thrive.

Thank you for your time and consideration over these past few weeks and please get out and vote!

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