As dedicated volunteers, working intimately at each of our San Marino School sites, we are devastated at the failure of Measure E. Despite PTA and community efforts to support the Measure E campaign, it failed to pass by 120 votes. On March 9, the School Board voted to eliminate 41.2 positions throughout San Marino Schools. We are heartbroken for our students, teachers and staff.
Volunteering at each school, in close contact with the school principals, staff and parents, we are painfully aware of how these cuts will impact each of our schools.
At Carver and Valentine, the loss of 5.5 positions each will have a dramatic impact. The reduction of six teachers in 4th and 5th grade will significantly increase the size of each class. The elimination of the P.E. and music positions will change the landscape of the elementary experience. Both schools will also lose counseling and ELD positions.
Huntington Middle School will lose 11.6 positions. Each of the core subject areas will lose at least one position, possibly increasing class sizes to the high 30s. The loss of a P.E. teacher means classes of 80-plus students. 2.6 positions are cut in the areas of Visual and Performing Arts (VAPA), eliminating art classes entirely, and drastically impacting HMS’ award-winning choir, band and orchestra programs. All these music classes are “feeders” to San Marino High School and, thus, music programs at the high school will also be harmed. All of the HMS cuts could have long-term effects on our students’ success at the high school in academic and extracurricular activities.
At San Marino High School, roughly one-third of our teacher and counselor positions will be eliminated. The loss of positions will result in many changes to the high school programs, including higher student-to-counselor ratios, reduction in overall offerings in every subject including English, math, science, chemistry and biology. These reductions will result in larger class sizes. There will be large reduction in our award-winning VAPA offerings; drama will be reduced by half, speech & debate will lose one section, and dance class, graphic arts and coding classes will be completely eliminated.
The earliest an amended Measure can go out to vote is an Aug. 31, 2021, ballot. Passage will allow the district to recover the budget shortfall, but it will be after the start of the school year and long after the 2021-22 budget will have been finalized. While we are hopeful that an amended Measure E passes, many of our most qualified teachers and staff will have already moved on to other school districts. Many programs, which took years to build, will be eliminated and it will be difficult to impossible to bring them back.
Even amid this pandemic, parents have given generously to their schools’ PTAs, but this money is not enough to restore positions. For the 2021-22 school year, these positions can only be saved through a coordinated fundraising effort with the San Marino Schools Foundation. To secure our school district’s long-term success, the district needs a sustained local source of funding in the form of a parcel tax.
We still have time to save the many programs listed above, but we need our community to come together now.
We urge you to do the following:
• Communicate your questions with the School Board.
• Vote “Yes” on an amended parcel tax.
• Give to the San Marino Schools Foundation to help close the funding gap and keep our precious teachers, staff and programs for the next school year.
Strong schools benefit everyone in this community. We are in this together!
Council PTA President
Helen Kim Spitzer
SMHS PTSA President
HMS PTA President
Valentine PTA President
Carver PTA President