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Letter to the Editor: Forum on West County School District

Hercules resident and parent Giorgio Cosentino submitted this letter.

Let's talk education!

Last night, I attended an education forum hosted by the newly chartered Hercules Democratic Club, which featured guests WCCUSD Superintendent Dr. Bruce Harter and WCCUSD Board Member, Madeline Kronenberg. The event was very well organized by a group of very positive and enthusiastic volunteers.

It was attended by members of the community, including teachers and parents and children, who contributed to an informative discussion. The format included writing down your questions, and as fast as you could write them, a volunteer delivered them to the guests. No question went unanswered, even if they occasionally caused the guests to squirm a bit.

The issues discussed included school safety, teacher quality and recruitment and retention, test scores, school facilities, class size, and funding. Our concerns were being heard by those who understand that the citizens of Hercules can have an impact on the entire school district. They know that simply listening is not good enough, that the citizens of Hercules expect action. They know that even if Hercules does not have representation on the school board, that Hercules does have 12,349 registered voters who do make a difference.

Our voice has been heard loud and clear. Now is the time to speak up. Make demands!

For some concerns or complaints, a formalized follow-up appears warranted and should be pursued.  This includes the recent debacle in which Ohlone Elementary School children were suddenly displaced with less than 24 hours notice. An attendee wanted the name(s) of those responsible. A follow-up question requested job descriptions and org charts, so accountability was truly on the minds of some. The Superintendent did point out that with increased funding constraints, responding to unmet enrollment projections has become more difficult feat, resulting in such displacements.

Some expressed concerns about the selection process for the Ivy League Connection program, also warranting further review.

We were reminded of some of the positives of our schools, that we are replacing portables with real buildings that do not resemble prisons. We have our strengths, with some of our schools showing good numbers in math performance. We heard about the promising Middle School Math Initiative, but which needs our support as it is grant funded. And we were also informed as to what cuts we can expect if education tax measures are not supported in November.

Also listening to our concerns were two WCCUSD Board candidates in attendance, Todd Groves and Robert Studdiford. They understand that in order to get the Hercules vote, they will have to advocate for the citizens of Hercules.
Many of us, myself included, make a whole lot of noise about OUR education system.

We have thoughts and opinions. By becoming more involved in a dialogue process, we can better learn and understand the source of our concerns, and then direct our efforts to solutions.  There was talk of a follow-up forum. If so, I encourage everyone to attend.

If anyone has questions about the forum, please contact Democratic Club representative, Mr. Manuel De Vera.(415) 469-7333 or email manueldevera@aol.com

Thank you, Democratic Club volunteers!

Sincerely,Giorgio Cosentino, Hercules Citizen and Parent

Susan D.Keeffe September 08, 2012 at 07:39 PM
G.C., Great summation ! Thank you! And thanks for asking great questions!
Marcia Kalapus September 08, 2012 at 08:46 PM
G.C. Thank you again for putting things into perspective. As you know there are a great many of us in Pinole who are very ,very concerned with all the test scores and the reports submitted to the state from the WCCUSD ,most especially Dr. Harter. We don't have a Democratic Club, but somehow there has to be some way that citizens from both cities with like concerns can join forces and demand more open transparency, and more open forum discussions on these problems. As you know Pinole had to practically declare war to get our cameras on the PVHS campus. We have about 9,700 votes that also can add to the clout. All of the AIP .Star. and the SARC reports should be all in by October, maybe there can be more discussions. You said that Harter said that strides were made in Math in the STAR results, Well, the following schools , eight graders , did not fair so well in Algebra 1 Not proficient: Portola 76 %, Pinole Middle 78%, De Jean 96%, Crespi 93%, Helms 91%. I don't have Hercules Middle. These are not good. As citizens and parents, we must make them understand that we are losing confidence in their ability to manage our children's education.
Giorgio C. September 08, 2012 at 11:36 PM
Phil Simmons and Sherry McCoy did a great job moderating. They made it positive. Much of the legwork for this event was also shared by Manuel De Vera, Hector Rubio, Jo Ellen Marcotte (President, Hercules Library Foundation) and Susan Keeffe (who did a great job keeping the questions going) and Sarah Creeley who always seems to be helping out in any way with everything everywhere which causes me to ask, has she been cloned?
Sarah Creeley September 09, 2012 at 01:47 AM
Thank you for making me laugh, Giorgio! :)
Giorgio C. September 09, 2012 at 02:35 AM
Marcia, How about you and I speak at the next Pinole and Hercules city council meetings and propose a unified effort? What's up with the Pinole council meeting? It says it was recently cancelled, but the notice is referring to one from August. When is the next Pinole City council meeting? Here is the notice. http://www.ci.pinole.ca.us/admin/meeting_agendas.html

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