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
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