A new year conjures up thoughts of betterment, improvements and positive changes. Aside from making changes to better our own lives, many look for ways to help enhance the lives around us and the community we live in. I envision 2016 as the year that San Clemente comes together for our children and the educational future of our town.
I am a member of San Clemente Partners Improving Education Responsibly (SC PIER), a grassroots organization consisting of community volunteers passionate about improving the education experience and facilities in San Clemente. We are exploring the feasibility for San Clemente to become independent from Capistrano Unified School District and form its own district. We believe this new district should provide a higher level of local accountability, transparency, educational standards, teacher and administration support, community representation and fiscal management. When things are important, San Clemente has proven to have an extraordinary sense of community. I am excited and confident that we will come together to create what is lacking in our community: a framework that ensures our children will be prepared to lead the next generation. San Clemente is a multi-generational town. People grow up here and come back to raise their families. Why wouldn’t people return? All it is lacking is a top-notch, locally run school district that is supported and encouraged by our #OneTownOneTeam spirit.
CUSD has approximately 50,000 students. If San Clemente were to become independent from Capo, we would serve about 10,000 students. It is no surprise that smaller school districts perform better. All but one of the top 10 school districts in California has less than 15,000 students. In my opinion, CUSD is far too big and bulky to be successful.
In today’s political climate, it is popular to talk about how school districts focus on the students and make sure children are not left behind. However, if you look at the facts, CUSD lacks the leadership and vision to put our students first. For example, I find it disappointing and shocking to realize that only 53 percent of CUSD’s class of 2015 had completed “A-G” courses, the entrance requirements for California State and University of California systems. College may not be a choice for every child, but it should at least be an option, and about 50 percent are being left without that option because their school district did not prepare them. Which 50 percent will your child fall into?
SC PIER has worked together for seven months researching the possibilities of San Clemente seceding from CUSD. Let’s put the rumors to rest. It is a process, but it does not have to take eight to 10 years. We have been fortunate to meet with AMPS, the Malibu group that is becoming independent from Santa Monica Unified School District. Their process is close to completion after only three years. We have far fewer hurdles to jump and believe three years is doable.
For as long as I can remember, friends and teachers in town have commented on how great it would be if San Clemente had its own school district. Now is the perfect time. We are built out. We have a receptive City Council and a new young population. I want the best for San Clemente, just like you. I am proud of our small-town spirit and love when important causes bring us together. This is that next cause, and everyone should jump on board. Make this part of your 2016 commitment. Our children deserve better. Our community deserves better. We can do better. Join us. Go to our website to learn more, get involved and give us your endorsement at www.scpier.org.
Editor’s note: In the Jan. 28-Feb. 3 print edition of the San Clemente Times, the statement regarding the top 10 schools districts was incorrect. This version has been corrected to reflect the accurate statement.