Letter From David Strelneck on ESUSD

Responding to the District’s email below, I remain eager to play a constructive role, as we all should.

Unfortunately I have come to believe there is no constructive role to play in working with the District office/staff in its current form, unless something changes in the system.

I send this message now because I think District attention needs to be drawn to this point, and it is not clear if they’re listening to any messages along these lines.

I’ll switch to channeling my time and Mono County relationships back towards helping our children, via the mix of academic and athletic and other experiences with community members, to build skills and pride around the essential role they and the schools play in creating healthy communities and a healthy country.

Per earlier messages from the community budget committee members, the effort below at open and honest financial information and explanations from the District staff came too late, after so many weeks and after the Board had lost a final big opportunity this week to build community respect for the difficult decision process, even amongst people with different perspectives and opinions. That is unfortunate for everyone. The school consolidations and layoffs may temporarily address truly problematic budget concerns, but underlying ESUSD management remains broken. This should concern everyone.

I would point out that Mollie Nugent has been professional and friendly throughout this process, and I am impressed by the wide range of current and former school board members and others who trust her integrity and intelligence. While we all have responsibility to bear, I am not trying to criticize Mollie with this message, but I am criticizing deeply the process and structure within which she and her colleagues must apparently operate.

I would also point out, for others to consider in their own thinking, that I have also come to value the good reasons why many District policies and decisions of the past few years were made, including hiring and contracting decisions by the school Board, upgrade of salaries and buildings and services, distancing of certain relationships from the Mono County Office of Education, and much much more. But the situation has changed and we do not live in the past. We should appreciate and build on the foundation of what was done, but not be handcuffed to in building the future amongst these changed financial and community circumstances.

I’d like to be clear that I am not upset about the decision to consolidate schools, and I am very proud of the time so many of us have invested. I have always supported the general idea of bringing the Bridgeport and Lee Vining high schools together, though I have also learned much from others about the strengths of different school models as well. But above these issues of school structure, I am a supporter of running the schools with integrity, in a way which engages rather than divides different parts of the community, and thus helps remind the community of their responsibility towards these tiny-town schools as well. I do not see the District planning or operating around this core value.

I encourage each of you to think hard about these issues and play the most constructive roles you can at this time, be it at the level of kids, schools, community engagement, or politics.

With the utmost respect for all the people who call Mono County home,

David Strelneck

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