Wednesday, May 06, 2009


East Side Union High School District Trustee and James Lick grad Eddie Garcia has proposed a three point plan to save interscholastic sports in the district. His plan just got a major boost by the San Jose Mercury News Editorial Board, which is endorsing it:

Editorial: A credible plan to restore athletics to East Side high schools
Mercury News Editorial
Posted: 05/06/2009 08:00:00 PM PDT

Parents and friends of East Side Union High School District made an impressive down payment last weekend on the restoration of school sports. The next move is for the school board to assure them that their efforts won't be wasted. The board should build interscholastic athletics back into next year's budget.

On Sunday, about 2,000 runners and walkers at a 5K race at Mount Pleasant High raised about $120,000. That's not yet close to the $2.3 million that athletics cost for the 11-high school district, but voluntary fees of $200 per athlete and other fundraising efforts could bring in an additional $500,000 or more. And the district has some additional options.

Trustee Eddie Garcia is proposing a three-pronged strategy to restore athletics, which the school board cut to help erase an $11 million deficit from next year's $240 million budget.
First, the board would guarantee that athletics would be reinstated. That's important, Garcia reasons, to persuade parents to raise money. Without knowing that there will be baseball and track in the spring, parents won't hit the bricks for money in the fall.

Second, the district would take advantage of the Legislature's option for school districts to lower reserves — from 2 percent down to 1 percent in large districts like East Side Union. As a one-year fix, Garcia would use the extra $2.4 million to save sports as well as restore some of the 80 teaching jobs that have been eliminated.

Finally, the trustees would put a parcel tax on the ballot in 2010, with the money dedicated to funding athletics, rehiring librarians and preserving other vital programs that will be under siege for at least several years. Assuming that elderly homeowners are exempted, a $100 tax, for instance, would bring in approximately $11 million.

It's a reasonable approach, and trustees should adopt it at their May 21 meeting. However, we'd add one stipulation. Parents should pledge not to let up in their fundraising or, for those who can afford it, not shirk to paying the voluntary sports fee. That's important, because the more money they raise privately, the more money from the reserve could be used to preserve other programs.

This plan will become more complicated if the state propositions on the May 19 ballot are defeated. This would put billions more dollars for K-12 schools in jeopardy, including millions for East Side Union schools, over the next two to three years. Many more teaching positions and programs could face elimination.

But it will be months before the Legislature works its way through the next budget crisis. Parents need to know the status of sports now, so they can start raising money. And if the worst does happen May 19, passing a parcel tax will become even more important, and the support of thousands of sports boosters will be critical. Killing sports even for one year could doom the tax.

Trustees should reinstate sports for a year but do so with their eyes wide open. They are likely to face more ugly choices.
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Check out the stylish designs for the new SJ Fire Station number 2 under construction now on Alum Rock Avenue. Neighbors demanded a new station for the area, not a remodel of the old station. This is what the city gets for it's 9.5 million dollar investment.
Local fire safety guru Frank Crane wrote in a recent ARNNE posting: "If any of us ever visited the old station we were quickly aware of how outdated the old place was. Additionally, we are reminded that the new facility is not like your neighbor's house. This is an up-to-date, technically equipped, fire station, emergency response, and residential facility. And it removes any fear that the Alum Rock Area will be left without a nearby emergency crew on hand 24/7."