July 31, 2014
On my last day as superintendent, I want to send one last letter to thank you for six wonderful years and express my deep confidence in this district's ability to continue its progress towards "Excellence & Equity for All Students."
First, the thank you: I have learned so much and shared so much with all of you that it is hard to know where to begin. Suffice to say, we have gone through a tremendous amount – from the Master Plan of 2010 to the anti-bullying curriculum (passed that same year), from back-to-back parcel tax campaigns (thank you, Alameda!) to the difficult labor negotiations of 2012 and 2013. Much of what we accomplished wasn't easy, but the long-term benefits are clear. The students' levels of achievement have risen every year. You have innovative and magnet programs. Your teachers are ready for the transition to the Common Core State Standards. All of the district's employees have received 5% raises over the last three years. You have the district's first-ever Facilities Master Plan, and the community will vote on a bond to repair and modernize our schools this November.
I am so, so grateful to those of you who helped get the district to where it is today.
And now, the welcome: The average tenure of a superintendent in California is 2.4 years. I stayed in AUSD for six. That stability of leadership has, in my eyes, left our district in very good shape. I know I am leaving you in good hands with our excellent teachers and school site staff, our experienced site and district office administrators, and our very dedicated district office staff. My hope for all of you is that you will continue to work together during the coming changes and challenges to help this district be the very best it can be — for the sake of the students, the employees, and the community at large.
It is not a time to coast, however. The schools and the children still need the support of active community members. Your time, your donations, and your advocacy on the behalf of students is as important as ever, if not more important, because you have to let your new leadership know what you, as a community, value in your public schools. Your hard work over the last six years has paid off enormously. Continued effort will not only maintain but expand what truly makes this district, this community, such an incredible place to raise and to nurture children.
And last, a special note about Measure A: This crucial parcel tax brings $12 million into the district every year. It allows us to continue to offer small classes, enrichment classes, athletics, technology, neighborhood schools, and the teachers and counselors needed to support such programs. The tax expires in 2018. Working with state legislators over the last year, district staff have endeavored to get legislation passed that would allow communities to craft parcel taxes that apply variable rates to commercial and residential properties. Unless such legislation is passed soon, you likely will not be able to renew Measure A in its current form or amount — or maintain the very valuable district programs the tax supports. Please stay tuned for further news on these efforts, keep involved in the possibilities of new legislation, and keep an eye on the sunset date of 2018.
Thank you again for all that you have worked to achieve, and I wish you all the very best in the future.
Kirsten M. Vital