Saturday, March 28, 2009

A Father Speaks: Do no harm

A number of people spoke at the Thursday March 26 OUSD board meeting. Here's an excerpt from one statement.

Tim Thompson was accompanied to the podium by his seven-year-old son Cole who was dressed in a fireman's outfit. Thompson had this to say:

"Saddleback Unified School District got it right too. They got it right about utilizing a small school as an asset rather than as a “liability of inefficiency," "a “burden,” as Silverado has been portrayed by some, Saddleback Unified not only saved Trabuco Elementary [their district's so-called small, rural school] , they turned it in to a money making, revenue generating school. And not just for the small surrounding Trabuco community, but they developed it into a resource for all of the citizens and students throughout their district. They bring in a 100 students a day on buses from around their district at $15.00 per student. That's $1,500.00 per day, $4,500 per week, $18,000 per month. Trabuco is still a small school of 75 students, but unlike all the other schools, it’s paying its way and then some.

(At left, Tim Thompson and his son Cole at the March 12 OUSD meeting.OC Register photo)
The OUSD has been given a proposal by the canyon community that has been 2 years in its genesis. The plan is to create a similar self-sustaining charter/magnet school for Silverado. We need time, a short amount of time, one year. We urge the four trustees revisit this decision for a reconsideration based on these factors:

1. The new financial changes to the – (negative) side of the revenue issue, following the latest offer from Ms. Pat Evans.

2. The polling results since the board’s vote on March 12, which shows that as of today 50% of existing Silverado students will transfer out of OUSD at a cost of approximately $200,000 in lost ADA revenue. These transfers are not to be construed as a threat. Rather, these are the very real actions of a determined community to see that their children/students grow and prosper in the environment in which they live and are intimately a part of - a rural habitat not a city setting.

3. The millions of dollars of economic stimulus money that is slated to begin coming into California schools.

Is OUSD able to provide a school for environmental programs & green technology? Absolutely. What school in OUSD could possibly offer anything remotely close to what Silverado is surrounded by, the Irvine Co’s 360 degree open space preserve of wilderness lands and trails?

We ask that you follow the lead of your fellow three trustees that see these possibilities. They got it right! Join them. Look beyond this rhetoric of so called inefficiencies. Don’t hide behind them.

Do no harm to a canyon community that is the last living reminder of the previous 100 years that has all but vanished from the Orange County of today.

(Tim Thompson and his son Cole march to OUSD headquarters on March 5, 2009)

My son Cole, standing here in his fireman’s outfit, is wanting to remind the four trustees who voted for Silverado’s closure that the volunteer firefighters of Modjeska and Silverado who placed themselves in harm’s way and risked their lives in October 2007 to save the school.

You four trustees who voted for Silverado’s closure, dwell deeply on this:

Did these community volunteer fireman take on such a risk for the sake of preventing the school buildings from being lost? Or rather did they risk life and limb to save what they knew deep in their hearts was one of the most valued assets of the entire canyon community? Silverado - this small school with six rooms and a little library, that their own children have attended for over a 100 years and is truly a cornerstone of their rural community.

Follow your fellow three Trustees. Revisit this decision. Reconsider it. Get it right!

Thank you."



  1. Excllent points about the visionary Saddleback district's use of Trabuco elementary - and shocking points about the ADA revenue the OUSD stand to lose when 2/3rds of Silverado's students withdraw.

  2. It seems that the lost ADA exceeds our "negative impact" on the budget...

  3. Some districts are closing offices on admin Friday - or furloughing employees in order to avoid closing schools. People seem ready to sacrifice and be inventive or flexible in order to make things work.