Historically, Alpine Union School District has been a stellar district and a great choice for parents when looking for excellent education for their children. Our teachers here on a whole, have always put 110% in to their positions for the benefit of our Alpine students. I personally know many students who have gone from this district, graduated with honors at the high school level, and continued on to Universities such as Harvard, Stanford, and Notre Dame.
These children who have worked their way through our District and received a wonderful foundation for their education was in part due to teachers whose occupation was their calling in life.
However, I have to say that my whole vision of the caliber of person who now resides in the position of teacher and administrator at the Alpine School District has changed. I am angered and disgusted by what I see. I understand first hand, the feeling of despair and outrage when wages are cut, and benefits are erased. I understand first hand what it is to have your income slashed in half, and what it is to put everything you have out just to cover the bills, almost lose your home, and face the despair of losing everything you worked your entire life for. The economy has dropped to a level of near depression for everyone in this country as well as this little town. That, on top of the recent blows to our town, in the form of construction that obliterated businesses, and all but put franchise in the town on hold. There may be some still untouched by the poor financial atmosphere that looms everywhere, but honestly, I can’t name anyone who has not experienced a lowered lifestyle.
It makes me sad to see that the people of AUSD have disassociated themselves with Alpine for so long that they fail to see the people waiting in food lines at the local churches as they walk into their negotiating meetings. It makes me sad that Alpine teachers feel that their $72,000 a year positions that are earned for 9 months of work is tantamount to an underpaid position. It makes me sad to think that they feel that $8,000 a year towards benefits, is a measly sum.
Make no mistake, I understand that the $72,000 does not apply to everyone in the district, but I do know when someone complains of sustaining cuts to their salaries that equal more than what some of my own co-workers make, and not much less than what I myself make as a yearly income, it puts everything into a different perspective. There are people who are struggling with the task of getting health insurance just so they won’t have to face fines. They can’t afford the health insurance that is being forced on them because of Obamacare, and it will put a huge burden on their finances and when I say huge burden, I am not talking about a skipped vacation, I am talking about whether or not they can purchase food or make rent for that month with the added liability. There are people who are struggling just to exist here in Alpine, who have college degrees, master’s degrees and doctorates. I know some of these people personally.
Please do not insult the people of Alpine. Please do not cry about suffering in your positions while others would give anything just to have a position. Your district that you work in, is facing collapse and you, by picketing at the corner are encouraging parents to pull more of their children away from the district and by threatening to cut off communications to parents after your ‘contractual time’, you are showing a bitterness that is felt like one more slap in the face to this community.
In this community, the people who live here often pull together to make things better. This has been illustrated in the community actions regarding Kylie Rowand, and Vinnie Higgins. But, this community has been stretched far beyond comfort with the promise of a high school, by a district that has been going back on their word for over thirty years. This community passed bonds for GUHSD, with the promise that GUHSD would build a long awaited, and necessary high school, on lands that they used eminent domain to push people off their homelands that they had been occupying for over three generations. This community has felt a sharp pain as the blades of lies and broken promises have prodded the very trust that they have had in a school district, and while Alpine Union School District is not Grossmont Union High School District, they too have been teetering back and forth on the high school issue for years.
In the last bond initiative, if teachers had done their homework like they expect their students to do, they would have found a community that is bitterly opposed to passing any more bonds when a high school is promised but never to be delivered on. This includes a bond that was planned to bail out AUSD after poor financial decisions were made especially with the words ‘high school’ tagged onto the back of that bond language. These decisions include taking out loans because the interest rates were too good to pass up, even though the district had no foreseeable way to pay the loans back especially in a declining enrollment atmosphere that the district had been long aware of. This, on a much smaller scale is the same as somebody buying a new car they can’t afford and asking their parents who are retired and are barely eking out a living to make the payments that they also cannot afford.
With the education and brainpower that is employed by this district it is very difficult to believe that answers cannot be found before a strike occurs and the district falls only to be caught by the County who will not take anything into consideration except collecting the money that is owed. It used to be that education was the main concern of the AUSD, but now, the dollar has replaced the goals of this district.
Both sides need to put their personal preferences aside, forget the idea that a bond will save them, and come up with a budget that they can and will work with. In any healing situation, pain is often felt, hence the term, no pain, no gain. If everyone works together, our district can be a strong force in education that is generating enough funds for all to have a happy and prosperous lifestyle. But if everyone (including administration and teachers alike) keeps taking bigger and bigger pieces of a pie that has shrunk in size, there will not be enough for anyone.