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City Life: Community's input is vital during superintendent search

April 10, 2012|By Steve Smith

I know this because a significant part of the success of the Newport schools has little to do with a superintendent. There, a common thread of success is the parents and the emphasis in their homes that they place on education. No superintendent will change that.

It is in the best interests of the Newport parents to support improved Costa Mesa schools in order to stop the transfer of students from Costa Mesa schools to those in Newport, Huntington Beach or private schools. That, in turn, will create stronger local schools, which helps everyone.

That said, two disturbing comments appeared at the Estancia High School community input meeting under the question, "What do you consider to be the greatest needs/critical issues facing the Newport-Mesa Unified School District?" The first reads: "More equitable distribution of funds between higher and lower income level schools." The second reads: "Centralized fundraising vs. site-based gets everything."

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I will be very clear here: All public funds should be equally distributed and, as far as I know, that is the case. The private money raised at any school should stay in that school, unless the fundraising organization votes otherwise. This is not money for all schools, only for that school.

There is a group that exists for centralized fundraising. It is an excellent organization called the Newport-Mesa Schools Foundation, which is a "…nonprofit organization of volunteer community members dedicated to serving all schools, all teachers and all students in the Newport-Mesa Unified School District by raising funds for the Grants to Teachers program and special curriculum needs."

This is the time to hire a superintendent who has battled it out in the trenches. This person must spend more time on campuses and less time in conference rooms. He or she must provide the bold leadership required to turn around Costa Mesa's schools while preserving the high quality of the schools in Newport Beach.

STEVE SMITH is a Costa Mesa resident and a freelance writer. Send story ideas to smi161@aol.com.

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