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OP-ED: Educating our children
June 19, 2014, 05:00 AM By Charlie Bronitsky

Charlie Bronitsky

Our city councils and our school districts are separate elected bodies with separate responsibilities. When it comes to educating our children, however, we need to look beyond the lines of what we are officially responsible for and do all that we can to fulfill that societal obligation. Education of our children is the only way to ensure a great future, not only for Foster City, but for our entire country. Moreover, not only do governments have this responsibility, it is the responsibility of each and every one of us to educate not only our own children but the community’s children. That my child no longer needs formal public education is irrelevant. My communities’ children need to be educated for the sake of our future. Unless and until we ingrain this in our society, our education systems will continue to deteriorate and we will lose our competitive advantage in the world. The risks are simply too enormous to allow that to occur, so I am calling on each and every one of you to commit and to participate actively in ensuring a great education for all of our students. Here’s how.

Our elementary and middle schools are run by the San Mateo-Foster City Elementary School District. In Foster City, our schools all score among the best in the state. However, our schools are overcrowded and becoming more so every day. In addition, within our district, we have economically disadvantaged children who do not currently have the opportunity to attend our schools because we do not have room. In San Mateo, the schools are also becoming overcrowded and those schools are also impacted in ways that further exacerbate the problem of providing a better education for economically disadvantaged students. In an attempt to address these issues, the school district has formed a community-based Next Steps Committee with members from both Foster City and San Mateo. They are looking at solutions for facilities and for helping those in our community who need additional help.

They began meeting earlier this year to look at the conditions of the various facilities and to understand the issues they are facing. They are now about to take their summer break but, once school is back in session, their next step in the process is to solicit community feedback on the problems and possible solutions for our children. I know that there have been issues relating to costs and allocation of funds. I know that there have been issues on the equity between Foster City and San Mateo on educating the economically disadvantaged students. I know there are myriad other issues that trouble people about our school system, but we cannot let these problems stop us from finding a solution. So, San Mateo and Foster City, I am now asking you to get involved in finding solutions.

I, as mayor of Foster City, Robert Ross, as mayor of San Mateo, Colleen Sullivan, as the president of the school board, along with our two city managers and the school superintendent have formed our own committee and we meet monthly in our effort to help the school district and the Next Steps Committee with these issues. Starting in September, the Next Steps Committee will be coming to your local schools, religious organizations, homeowners association meetings and the like to hear from you on your concerns and your ideas for solutions to the pending problems. Please, please, please participate in that process.

There are always potential issues when there are two organizations that need resources and services. Our school district is no exception. However, San Mateo and Foster City have repeatedly been able to work together for the betterment of both cities, finding ways to compromise and share such that it has benefited all of us by allowing us to work together for the common good, and often at much lower cost. The recent collaboration in our fire services is but one example, and there are many. If governments can do it, so can the people.

We all understand that these are difficult issues, but we can come together as a community, open the dialogue, listen more than talk and be willing to compromise. If each of us will do that and will dedicate her or his self to providing the best education possible, we can and will find reasonable solutions to these problems, solutions which do not unduly burden any one of us. Colleen, Robert and I have committed to work together on this effort along with the professional staff and the Next Steps Committee but we cannot do it without you. As I said at the beginning, educating our children is of paramount importance. Please help us to get that done by getting involved, giving us feedback and working toward a solution. We will all be better off for your efforts. Information about the Next Steps Committee can be found at http://www.smfc.k12.ca.us, just follow the link to Next Steps Committee.

Charlie Bronitsky is the mayor of Foster City. He can be reached by email at cbronitsky@fostercity.org or (650) 286-3504.

 

 

Tags: foster, school, issues, children, mateo, schools,


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