COMMUNITY COMMENTARY:

It’s college application season. All across our district, as across our country, high school seniors are writing their essays, penning their verbal self-portraits in hopes of gaining admission to at least one of their chosen colleges. University of California applications were due Nov. 30.

We have a senior at our house — our third and last to attend Glendale schools — and we’re feeling the excitement and the anxiety. All our district’s seniors are on the launching pad to an unknown future, and we “senior parents” are experiencing the countdown with them.

This year’s Glendale Unified School District seniors are among the lucky ones. They have enjoyed the benefits of largely state-supported class-size reduction (a student-teacher ratio of 20 to 1) through their primary years and in ninth-grade English and math classes. They’ve had consistency in the “Everyday Math” program, which has put Glendale above the state average in math scores. They’ve grown up with standards to guide their instruction in a district that targets success for every student. Increasing numbers of students from all across our district are achieving the high standards our state and national economies require.

Despite California’s low ranking in per-pupil spending, despite California’s class sizes being among the largest in the country, increasing numbers of California students and Glendale students in particular have met the competition on nationwide tests like the Scholastic Aptitude Test and the Advanced Placement exams. It’s definitely a time to be thankful for the dedicated work of our teachers, administrators and classified staff who have been so instrumental in bringing our seniors to this point.

But will the seniors in the years to come enjoy the advantages today’s seniors have experienced? Will our state provide for all the future seniors as it has — even so frugally — for the class of 2009?

As today’s seniors work on their college essays, school boards across the state are grappling with a state budget that never did add up and is getting increasingly out of balance, even while the national economy falters. As we try to hold on to the dream of real adequacy of funding that statewide studies concluded we need to build a competing and creative workforce, school boards are having to look at what to cut next. Glendale Unified is in a better position than most districts in California. We have a financial reserve that will get us through midyear cuts and probably through most of the next budget year, if we’re really, really careful. But what happens after that?

In the coming months, the Glendale Unified Board of Education will be examining both our immediate and long-term budget priorities, and soon we’ll begin the process of reexamining the educational priorities that guide our budget. Please join with us as we ponder the present and the future for our children, our state and our nation.

Help us guarantee that Glendale’s seniors in the years to come are well prepared both for college and for meeting the needs of this country.

Best wishes, Class of 2009.


 JOYLENE WAGNER is the president of the Glendale Unified School District Board of Education.

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