School started on Monday and, along with my children's excitement to see the friends that they haven't seen all summer, was the thrill of seeing many of the teachers who had been laid off back in the classrooms once again.
It was also great to see that the class size for kindergarten through third grade only increased to around 25 students, instead of the 30 that was likely before the teachers were recalled. While that's still more than the ideal maximum of 20, which has been the district policy for a number of years, it could have been much worse.
For those of you who haven't heard, on Aug. 24 the Glendale Unified School District and the Glendale Teachers Assn. reached a tentative agreement for a new three-year contract. This comes after months of bitter negotiations that resulted in the two sides having to go to mediation and fact-finding.
The new agreement still includes a cap on health insurance premiums of $13,547, but now adds an 8% increase to it each year. This new agreement will have the district sharing part of the burden and not have it placed solely on the backs of the teachers.
If this change in the district's position came about with the help of our new Supt. Dick Sheehan, let me say thank you for coming to a more reasonable stance.
The tone of the statements being made in the press lately has certainly mellowed on both sides and that can be nothing but positive.
Teacher union members will be voting on this new agreement on Sept. 7, 8 and 9, and let's hope it is ratified so that everyone can start the new school year with their complete focus back in the classrooms and on the kids.
One change that I was very happy to see this year is the addition of a vegetarian choice each day on the elementary lunch menu for September. We are vegetarians, and I wrote in a previous article that our kids too often had to choose to bring their lunch or eat only from the salad bar when the entrees were completely meat-based. I hope this means that the school food service is moving in a more veg-friendly, healthy direction.
Monday also brought more good news. Our principal at Mountain Avenue Elementary, Rebeca Witt, announced to the parents that our school's state API test score had increased and that we are the highest scoring school in the district.
Our kids could not have accomplished this without all of the great teachers that we are so fortunate to have at our school, or without the parents who volunteer thousands of hours in the classrooms each year to support them.
William Arthur Ward once said, "The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires."
SHARON RAGHAVACHARY is on the steering committee for Crescenta Valley Community Assn. and a member of the Family Advisory Council for Childrens Hospital Los Angeles. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.