To the Editor:
Regarding Tuolumne County School District unification, I have been against previous attempts to unify in the past, as it has never proven that it saves money.
There are many more impacts than just saving where the superintendents’ salaries are concerned. Even with just one superintendent, there is the required support staff. Job-sharing is one possible solution for cost savings, and sharing superintendents between smaller districts and combining the superintendent/principal jobs by sharing the responsibilities are two examples that are already occurring in this county.
In addition, in a unified district, all teachers are on one salary schedule, which is determined by the school within the newly unified district that has the highest pay scale. This means that elementary school-level teachers would receive the same pay as high school teachers. Although this is not a matter of whether they deserve the pay, I would welcome a detailed study on all aspects of unification to see if it actually would be a cost savings, and where those savings would actually occur.
In addition, we should also study school consolidation, since declining enrollment seems to be the trend in a lot of our area schools. With consolidation, schools with decreased enrollments could be combined, which would save money for certain.
Where bussing is concerned, money could potentially be saved, as there would no longer be restrictions where crossing over into other school districts to transport students is an issue.
In addition, the elementary school students could share buses with high school students. Additionally, if it truly is about saving money, the overall objective should be to pas these savings on to the students in the classrooms.
Paul M. Howay
Weekly Arts and entertainment guide for Calaveras and Tuolumne counties