Sometime in late October, County Superintendent of Schools Tim
Foley is going to place a call to the Hollister School District and
want to know if the books have been balanced. The fate of the
district’s 6,100 students will depend on the answer.
Sometime in late October, County Superintendent of Schools Tim Foley is going to place a call to the Hollister School District and want to know if the books have been balanced. The fate of the district’s 6,100 students will depend on the answer.
If a plan has not been worked out by then – veteran board financial expert Michael Slater is being paid $600 a day to look for a solution to the district’s $1 million deficit – Foley will likely initiate a state take-over of the district.
What will the district reaction be if it comes to that? Will board member Randal Phelps simply try to discredit Foley, as he did last week when he remarked: “(Foley) chose not to put his kids in our district. He wouldn’t know what was best for the kids.”
It is too often the case in San Benito County politics that when people disagree, they attack one another rather than deal with the substance of an issue. Problems in the district attorney’s office, and in the Republican Central Committee, attest to this.
Phelps’s unfortunate shot at Foley set a bad example for the students over whose education he has some authority, and more to the point, avoided the serious issue at hand: HSD’s deficit, responsibility for which must be borne by every member of the Hollister School District Board.
Those members should avoid the politics of personal destruction. It is not merely ethically wrong, it is counterproductive.
That is a message we hope all political figures in San Benito County take more to heart.
Foley’s letter to the board a week ago urging the HSD to balance its books did not contain a deadline, but Foley told this newspaper, and made it clear to the district, that he expected action within 90 days.
There are issues beyond the control of the school district that have contributed to the situation in which it now finds itself – in particular the sewer moratorium, which has brought growth to a halt. Board members have a choice: they can bemoan the crummy hand they’ve been dealt, or they can roll up their sleeves and get to work.
On his death bed, Fresno writer William Saroyan is rumored to have said: “I always knew people die, I just thought that somehow an exception would be made for me.”
No exception will be made for the Hollister School District either. But if it allows the debate to get personal, instead of doing the kind of addition and subtraction it is supposed to be teaching its students, it will have no one to blame for failure but itself.