Capistrano Unified Parents Feel Years of Budget Cuts' Impacts

A focus group and separate survey produce a long list of both positives and negatives about the district.

Patch photo credit: Penny Arévalo.
Patch photo credit: Penny Arévalo.

EDITOR’S NOTE: A consultant has recently queried focus groups made up of various constituents of the Capistrano Unified School District. Patch is reporting some of the major themes presented by the groups. Today's focus: Non-teaching employees. 

While teachers and support staff debate the effectiveness of the school board, parents in the Capistrano Unified School District see years of sparse budgets taking its told.

Parents say they’re worried about the physical campuses, deteriorating conditions at some of them creating an inequality among students, class sizes that have gotten too large and the district’s abiity to care for students’ health needs with few nurses left off on staff.

The consultants hired to help the sprawling school district select a new superintendent now that Joseph Farley has announced his retirement conducted a number of focus groups and solicited online questionnaires to various stakeholders, including support staff.

See what teachers feel about the district

See what support staff had to say

The goal was to define the current strengths and challenges the district faces, along with the qualities the next superintendent should have.

Parents obviously had differing opinions and saw problems and positives in the same issue, such as communication, the new national Common Core standards and the district’s “Two-Way” language academies – while many saw the programs as a strength, others complained that they displace neighborhood children.

Defined as challenges in the eyes of parents are:

  • Addressing cut backs in instructional days
  • Bridge between technology and the classroom
  • Budget constraints/challenges
  • Class-size reduction
  • Collaboration is non-existent among foundations
  • Facilities disrepair of schools/roofs-AC
  • Focus on literacy stops after 3rd grade
  • Involving more Hispanic parents to the table
  • Motivating teachers to do more in union environment
  • School calendars and equitable funding needs to be addressed

According to a report from consultant, Hazard, Young, Attea & Associates, input came from a focus group made up of 59 parents. Another 186 – there could be some overlap, the report says – filled out online surveys. The consultant cautioned that the results are not from a scientific sampling. 

Among the strengths are:

  • Academic performance of students
  • Administrators come to meeting and listen to us
  • Choices: charter schools, academies, home schooling-online classes
  • Curriculum is strong
  • Diverse population
  • The school board is fiscally conservative
  • Open enrollment policy
  • Parents are involved
  • Principals
  • Teachers are dedicated to students
fact checker March 21, 2014 at 01:03 AM
But then that is all in the past. You and Dawn have moved on to new pursuits of malfeasance and new searches for villains. How about the idea that there IS no malfeasance and there ARE no villains. Enough reputations have been sacrificed and aspersions cast. How about some solutions.
Dan March 21, 2014 at 01:24 PM
Fact Checker, while I almost always agree with you, it's important to remember that unethical isn't always illegal. And, while I agree with your assessment of MVM and Dawn's gossipy pot stirring behavior, it is true that the the old Board would meet on Saturday's under the guise of evaluating Fleming and they would strategize their dealings with their political enemies. All of that was well documented and very unethical. With that said, none of that is happening with our current administration and Board.
fact checker March 21, 2014 at 02:41 PM
I guess their behavior is up for interpretation. I don't see them as unethical. Naive perhaps, and we all under estimated the lengths to which the opposition would go (and continues to go) to advance their own agendas. Anyone who works under Brown Act restrictions knows how difficult the law is to interpret and follow. Even attorneys will tell you that. Brown Act violations are rampant everywhere and keep many an attorney busy because it is very difficult to do public business without risking an inadvertent and unintended violation. Any attempt to revise the law is seen as an attempt to subvert the intention of transparent governance. It is as sacred a cow as Prop 13. I believe their intention was to figure out how to deal with an attack group who had the DA on their side (politically affiliated...and no one has ever denied that) and a hidden agenda. How could they do that in an open meeting? The Bealls and their ilk did their job so well that even standing up for people who opposed them is still seen as unacceptable by most people. MVM's post is clear evidence of that. She thinks even saying their name is enough evidence of malfeasance because, after all, everyone knows they did something wrong (even though every single charge and accusation came to nothing).
Dan March 21, 2014 at 03:05 PM
Many of the Saturday meetings occurred long before the DA was involved. Yes, the Board may have been naive, but while Fleming did nothing illegal he was most definitely unethical. He was unethical in so many arenas and the board just went along with him, probably because they didn't truly understand what he was doing. I agree with you about the whole recall group, but they would have had no fodder to manipulate and paint things worse than they were without Fleming first deceiving the public with lies regarding funding, negotiations, portable buildings, etc. None of it was as serious as the Recall group made it out to be, but Fleming is responsible for the Recall group's ability to gain traction in 2006. And let's not forget, the recall group was started by Murphy and was hijacked by carpetbagging opportunists from RSM that kicked Murphy out.
Mission Viejo Mom April 27, 2014 at 07:16 PM
Thank you Dan for your posts.


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