This September, our oldest child Autumn will enter kindergarten at a Capistrano Unified school. In many ways it will mark a right of passage, as my wife and I watch our daughter take a significant step in her growth and development. Perhaps a tear of joy will be shed, but without doubt we will be proud of her and beam with pride.
But in the era of the Great Recession, we can only wonder as to what kind of public education she and her two younger siblings will receive in the coming years. Sacramento has proven itself to be an absolute disaster as revenues to Capistrano Unified continue to decline year over year. Larger class sizes, deferred maintenance and fewer personnel are the new norms. Every dollar received becomes treasured that much more.
Sadly, Capistrano Unified has been in turmoil for years. Multiple battle lines have long since been drawn with all sides accusing the others of the most heinous offense of our time: Financial mismanagement. Partisan examples abound, from the “Taj Mahal” district headquarters built at great taxpayer expense, to the alleged largess of previous union contracts, to the recent retainer by the board of not less than 652 outside attorneys, to the well known out of court settlements of taxpayer dollars that benefit only certain key campaign contributors.
We have lost sight of the fact that proper use of taxpayer dollars and education of our children are the primary purposes of Capistrano Unified. Focus on these two points brings a third benefit: Sustainable property values. Misuse of taxpayer money and poor educational choices for our children make neighborhoods less attractive, creating another justification for already declining home prices.
As a taxpayer, father and homeowner, I recognize the need to restore sanity and common sense to Capistrano Unified. And so I have chosen to seek a seat on the Board of Trustees. Perhaps it is Mission Impossible, but on some level I believe that I would be negligent in my efforts to make the best opportunities available to my children and to maintain as much as my limited personal wealth as possible if I did not step forward to meet the challenge.
In making this decision, I have sought out the advice, counsel and wisdom of a diverse group of citizens from all walks of life and different perspectives. The one common thread among them is the conviction that we can and must restore the beacon of light that was once Capistrano Unified. And consistent with this effort, my campaign will not accept the support of certain interest groups, more specifically unions and trial attorney advocacy groups. To be clear, I support teachers and staff as individuals because they create the appropriate environment in which my children will learn. As for trial attorneys, I support them as individuals too because I work and interact with them on a daily basis in my job. That being said, both groups have secondary interests in Capistrano Unified and I do not wish to be beholden to anybody other than taxpayers, children and homeowners.
In launching my campaign, I am reminded that the word “autumn” signifies a time of change. When our daughter Autumn was born approximately five years ago, she forever altered the lives of all around her, especially me and my wife. And now as she is on the verge of becoming a newly minted student, it is my hope that Autumn’s arrival at school will mark the beginning of positive change for Capistrano Unified as well.
San Clemente resident John Alpay is running against Trustee Mike Winsten in the November 2 recall election.
via San Clemente Times.