OFFICE OF THE SUPERINTENDENT
5735 47th Avenue Sacramento, CA 95824
(916) 643-9000 FAX (916) 643-9480
Jonathan P. Raymond, Superintendent
May 21, 2010
BOARD OF EDUCATION
Ellyne Bell, MA, LMSW Dear Colleagues,
Trustee Area 1
Earlier this week, I was a guest at an event hosted by the Hmong, Mien, Lao
Community Action Network. At the event, I talked about a prevailing sense that,
Patrick Kennedy during these tumultuous times, we are all hanging on to the edge of a mountain by our
Vice President fingertips.
Trustee Area 7
That image has really stuck with me. I know that many of us, including so many of our
Roy Grimes, MPA, MBA, CGFM great teachers, counselors, classified and central office staff, feel the dirt and rocks
2 Vice President crumbling under our fingernails as we sway in the wind, bracing ourselves while we try
Trustee Area 6
to stave off an inevitable fall.
Jerry Houseman, Ed.D. In these times of desperation, it’s hard to even imagine what the top of the mountain
Trustee Area 2 looks like.
Over the past months, we have talked at great length about the budgetary realities that
Trustee Area 3 we face and how the decrease in state funding will affect our students. At the same
time, many of you have begun to hear talk of a new Strategic Plan. Some have asked
“how are these things related?” The question is a good one: How do we reconcile these
Gustavo Arroyo bold ideas with the financial realities of the times?
Trustee Area 4
For me, the answer is simple – the Strategic Plan is about providing a picture of what
Diana Rodriguez the top of the mountain looks like and where the footholds and grips are that map out
Trustee Area 5 our collective path back to solid ground.
If left hanging by our fingernails, one thing is certain – we will eventually lose our grip
Student Board Member and fall. The only way to ensure that this doesn’t happen is to be brave enough to take
steps toward reaching the top. Reaching out when our balance is so tenuous is scary,
but we know we won’t climb by simply staying still.
Attached you will find a brief summary of the vision for the district and the framework
for the Strategic Plan that is being put together. We will be unveiling more details
regarding the plan in June – specifically individual action plans to get us to the top of
the mountain and the tools that will help us in our climb. Even more will come in the
months that follow as we take our new plan to the ground-level of school sites and lay
out what this will all look like for our students and their families.
What separates this document from others like it in the past is that it shouldn’t – and
cannot – be something to read and put in a desk drawer somewhere. It will be the
constant anchor for every decision we make - a tool to reference as we make sure we
never lose focus of what’s most important to improving teaching and learning for all of
This focus - along with heightened efficiency - is critical, especially in this time of
financial crisis. The budget shortfall has forced us to make some horrible choices and
do more with less. At last night’s Board meeting, we heard dozens of heart-felt stories
from students, parents, teachers and counselors concerned about the loss of our school
counselors. These stories echoed the sentiments of many emails and letters that I
received this week, that our counselors are too important to our children and families to
Some of those letters pointed out that, in last week’s letter to staff, incorrect
information was presented with regards to the number of counselor positions proposed
to be eliminated. I’d like to apologize for the mistake, and thank those who have
brought it to my attention. I will always strive to provide candor and communicate
with integrity. The correct information is that the counseling staff, under the current
proposal, would be reduced by 34.6 FTEs. The prospect of losing counselors has
rightfully caused outrage amongst teachers, parents and staff who see, as I do, the
extraordinary impact that these passionate advocates for our children have on our
Still, we can take solace in one undeniable fact: we don’t need to do it alone.
To date, we have already received concessions from four of our five unions – tough
choices that have saved jobs and vital district services. And we continue to work with
these partners. Our staff is sitting down with these groups to pore over our budget with
a fine-toothed comb, looking for more savings to save more positions. I am hopeful
that our teachers’ union leadership, too, will soon make the difficult choices necessary
to help us keep class sizes small and keep counselors in our schools. I am willing to
meet with SCTA union leadership any time, any day or anywhere to roll up our sleeves
and find solutions that will help our great young teachers and counselors.
These unique times demand a willingness to put aside everything and do what’s best
for our children and community. Although we have rescinded 462 pink slips to
teachers in our district to date, our goal is to save as many of our great educators as
possible. Keeping the status quo will result in 240 teachers laid off at the end of this
year. We must find a way to keep them, and all of our families, from leaving our
district for others like San Juan and Elk Grove, where the district and its union
leadership have found common ground to keep class sizes smaller and preserve the role
As a parent at last night’s Board meeting wisely said: The students, parents and great
staff of this district make up a big family. I couldn’t have said it better myself.
Together, we will find our way to the top of the mountain.
Jonathan P. Raymond