The Sweetwater Union High School District is in desperate need of outside help, even if it’s only some public shaming from the mayors and city councils of the South Bay cities within the district. In responding to a self-inflicted budget disaster, the leaders of the state’s largest secondary school district have badly lost their way. An intervention is needed.
Last week, the county Office of Education — fulfilling its oversight role — rejected the district’s proposed budget for understating spending by $15 million to $20 million. The office constructively offered to give the district a loan to pay off the $12 million that was improperly, recklessly taken from funds obligated to be spent on facilities and other needs to pay for general operations, including salaries.
But incredibly and inexplicably at a school board meeting Monday, district leaders chafed at what they consider unfair criticism of their management. Superintendent Karen Janney questioned the motives of the county office and the board voted 5-0 to reject the loan. Yet the county’s proposal makes more sense to stabilize the district than anything its leaders have suggested. Those leaders do their students a disservice.
Sweetwater’s 39,000 students deserve to be led by responsible adults. The present lot is in denial. If other local leaders can’t shake them out of it, an intervention by state Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond may be necessary. This can’t go on.
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