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 New State Superintendent Torlakson Meets with Local Superintendents

​Newly elected State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson met with local district superintendents at the County Office of Education January 19, pledging his support for greater budget flexibility and a new look at testing and accountability.

In an informal discussion with 10 district superintendents and County Superintendent Randy Ward, Torlakson heard the superintendents’ strong concerns about the proposed state budget for education, including the deferral of funds previously promised to schools. Deferrals force districts to borrow funds to operate, at interest rates that only worsen their financial situations, Torlakson was told.

Torlakson, himself a former high school science teacher and cross country coach, pledged to work with and support the superintendents, here and throughout the state. Part of Governor Jerry Brown’s proposed budget is to continue temporary taxes instead of letting them end, potentially generating $8 billion for all state programs for fiscal year 2011-12.

Such a move would require a two-thirds vote of the legislature in March in order to put the measure before state voters in June. Torlakson said it will be important for school personnel, parents, the business community, and the entire higher education community, to work together to pass such a measure.

Superintendents taking part in the discussion included: San Diego Unified’s Bill Kowba; Tom Pellegrino, Alpine Union School District; Justin Cunningham, Bonsall Union School District; Ralf Swenson, Grossmont Union High School District; Brian Marshall, La Mesa-Spring Valley School District; Carol Parish, South Bay Union School District; Ernie Anastos, Lemon Grove School District; Gary Wilson, San Pasqual Union School District; Leslie Fausset, Solana Beach School District; and Julie Weaver, Spencer Valley School District.

Superintendents embraced accountability measures, but urged Torlakson to help them get more flexibility in hitting performance standards. “Hold us accountable, but lighten up on the compliance issues,” said one superintendent.