School Calendar to Grow, Class Sizes to Shrink, Capo Superintendent Predicts

After two years of less than a full 180 school days and larger-than-average class sizes, Farley sees positive change ahead.

Superintendent Joseph Farley Patch photo credit: Penny Arévalo
Superintendent Joseph Farley Patch photo credit: Penny Arévalo

Barring some unexpected gyrations from Sacramento, Capistrano Unified should receive enough state funding to return to a full 180-day academic calendar next year and start reducing class sizes.

That was the word from Superintendent Joseph Farley, who met with parents Wednesday as part of his periodic forums he hosts.

The district dipped below the standard 180 days in 2012-13, to 175 days, as officials struggled with an incredibly tight budget. In fact, had Prop. 30 not passed that year, the district was prepared to shorten the school year by an additional two weeks.

Then for this year, the school board restored two days in June, but left three furlough days on the calendar.

In addition, class sizes – which grew in 2012-13 – only nominally shrank this year.

Farley, however, sees better days ahead.

“Getting back to the 180 days, reducing class size and eliminating furlough days are the priority,” he said. “I think all of them are priority No. 1 and pretty much they have to go hand in hand. … We want to get back to where we were.”

Several parents at the meeting voiced concern that class sizes interfere with a teacher’s ability to teach to the various levels of readiness in a classroom.

While Farley agreed that class sizes give pause, the students continue to score well in testing.

He also said class sizes won’t shrink overnight.

“Ideally they should be significantly lower. Maybe we’ll have to work our way to it,” Farley said.

shelly January 18, 2014 at 12:54 PM
Dawn, Funding was cut drastically to our district. And while employees' were RIFed and class sizes increased, programs cut and maintenance deferred you insisted that it was only the responsibility of the teachers and employees to pay for these programs. Even though the funding for education was cut all over our state you insisted it was someone else's responsibility to fix it all. While others stepped up for kids you blogged. Your blogging helped no kids to read or write or equate. During the five years you have been blogging and writing letters and making people "aware" others have been in the classrooms in our district educating our children with the only funds available. You had nothing to do with getting my child into college or making my children successful but the teachers and school site employees have and I will always be grateful. It is your right to blog for your child and your bottom line which is what you do. At a time our children needed us all to stop being political and pull together and step up for them you pointed fingers. Class sizes are way too big and programs need to be restored and buildings need to be fixed but it is absolutely not the responsibility of our teachers and school employees to fix and pay for these issues.
shelly January 18, 2014 at 12:56 PM
Dawn, And parents and people who did step up I will be grateful to because my children and your child benefitted from their generosity and hard work.
Dawn Urbanek January 18, 2014 at 04:23 PM
Shelly- They have always bargained by a certain date until this year. Saddleback had no problem completing their contracts BEFORE adopting a budget.
Dawn Urbanek January 18, 2014 at 04:25 PM
"Steps are in place as we speak to deal with any potential pension issue." What would that be? To make the Prop 30 tax increase permanent?
Dawn Urbanek January 18, 2014 at 04:27 PM
Your bottom line, Dawn is that if we pay teachers less (which they deserve) then all of the financial challenges facing our schools will be solved.--------------------------------------------------------------------------- This is not my position at all. If you want to increase your employee costs every year then you need to find additional revenue because we cannot continue to increase class size, defer maintenance, and shorten the school year. There are no programs left to cut.
Dawn Urbanek January 18, 2014 at 04:31 PM
Shelly- funding is now back and nothing has changed for our kids. We are still needing to cut another $12 million for 2014- 2015. So wouldn't you think it would be reasonable to Free Step and Column until we can at least return our school year to 180 days? If you read the initial proposals of the CUEA contract this year- Step and Column was suppose to be frozen for 1/2 year- but magically when the contract was signed it contained no freeze in Step and Column? How did the two parties to the agreement make a material change to the contract without every disclosing it to the public?
Dawn Urbanek January 18, 2014 at 04:34 PM
Shelly- I will work with you when you work to change class sizes, restore our school year and ensure that are children are attending class in a structurally sound building and programs are restored so that we no longer need to fundraise for them. But- all I ever hear from you is that it is the teachers (not the students) that are the most important. You are part of the problem not the solution. We do not have room in our overcrowded classrooms for enough parents to make a difference.
Dawn Urbanek January 18, 2014 at 04:35 PM
I am signing off this thread.
shelly January 18, 2014 at 09:12 PM
Dawn, Revenues are up but not at the level they were. I have never stated that teachers are more important than students. I have stated that the most important classroom expense is teachers. There would be no students without teachers unless you are homeschooling. Do you disagree? You want smaller class sizes but that takes more teachers and they are not volunteers. ___________________________________________________ I honestly do not believe I could work with you because of your disrespect of teachers and parents and students who are not gifted or live above the poverty line that you have exhibited over and over again on these blogs. I value public education. I believe CA should invest more in education. If we did then there would be small class sizes as there were before, sound buildings and intact programs.
shelly January 18, 2014 at 09:15 PM
And Dawn, all I hear from you is that teachers have no real value in education and your child and your needs override other children and others' needs.
Mission Viejo Mom January 19, 2014 at 12:54 PM
And Shelly, all I hear from you is how we should worship teachers and we need to sacrifice our family budgets to pay more taxes. As well as how successful your 4 kids are and all the volunteering you do.
shelly January 19, 2014 at 02:24 PM
Mission Viejo Mom, We all share our personal experiences with the subject matter we are speaking of. And I have never stated we should worship teachers. Please show me where I did. What I have stated over and over again is that when the chips are down we should all help. I have stated that school employees should not be responsible to pay for the things we, the taxpayers are responsible for. But in some people's minds it is always someone else's fault, someone else's responsibility and they themselves always do enough.
shelly January 19, 2014 at 02:25 PM
Mission Viejo Mom, My children are not perfect but I am very proud of them. Is that wrong?
shelly January 19, 2014 at 02:49 PM
Dawn and Mission Viejo Mom, What exactly is the most important classroom expense?
Mission Viejo Mom January 19, 2014 at 04:45 PM
Shelly, exactly...we all share our personal experiences with the subject matter we are speaking of. It's great that you have had such a wonderful experience with this district. You are a stay at home mom who volunteers and whose kids do well in school. Many of us work and have the experience and understanding of where our taxes go and how they are not being used properly. Our state chooses to throw money away on a train instead of spending money to fix our school buildings.
fact checker January 19, 2014 at 06:42 PM
MVM. please tell me that you didn't just say that working people have a better understanding of the world than the little women who stay home with their children.
shelly January 19, 2014 at 07:05 PM
Mission Viejo Mom, What exactly are you saying about women or men who choose to stay home and raise their children? I chose to stay home with my children, and because of this we budget very carefully. We own a home but it is neither huge nor in a gated community. We live within our means. I drive a 12 year old dented van and none of my kids have cars of their own because they do not have a jobs. I do not know why you would think that because I do not work outside of the home I do not understand where my taxes or my money goes. Why would you think that women or men to stay home and raise their children do not understand taxes, money or budgets?
shelly January 19, 2014 at 07:11 PM
Mission Viejo Mom, I have respect for people who choose to stay at home and raise their children and people who choose to work and people who do not have the choice but have to have both partners work or are single family parents and must work. We all make choices or do what is best for us individually or for our families. I do not assume that I am a better parent than anyone because I stay home. I do not assume I know more about children because I chose to stay at home with mine. I support and respect other women's choices and needs. I understand it is easy to use a stereotype of others because using it will support your opinion.
shelly January 19, 2014 at 07:17 PM
Mission Viejo Mom, In case you forgot our economy tanked and the devastating cuts to CUSD budgets were not caused by a train. The deferred maintenance budgets of many school districts were not caused by the high speed rail program but by an economy that was hit by the irresponsible actions of banks, savings and loans, businesses and people who lived way beyond their means. Our economy tanked because of greed but that is just the humble opinion of a stay at home mom who has two college degrees and reads (and doesn't just listen to talking heads).
Shripathi Kamath January 19, 2014 at 11:54 PM
fact checker January 19, 2014 at 06:42 PM MVM. please tell me that you didn't just say that working people have a better understanding of the world than the little women who stay home with their children. __________________________________________________ She did not, at least not anymore. But she did say "You are a stay at home mom who volunteers and whose kids do well in school. Many of us work and have the experience and understanding of where our taxes go and how they are not being used properly. " ___________________________________________________ Stay at home moms do not work at all. This is like, a scientific fact, readily proved by biology and common sense. Does that mean home-schooled kids are no good? They are after all taught by stay at home parents unlike those who work and have that experience of understanding where taxes go. ___________________________________________________ Also, I am reminded of Hillary "I could have stayed home and baked cookies and had teas, but what I decided to do was fulfill my profession" Clinton.
LeAna Bui January 20, 2014 at 01:19 PM
Mission Viejo Mom: Those of us who didn't work and stayed home with our kids also have an understanding of where our taxes go and if they are being properly used or not. We don't check our brains and thinking skills at the door to the nursery......
Frieda Wales January 20, 2014 at 01:59 PM
Ah, take a little break from the Patch Education columns and come back to find the same players hashing over the same issues - God forbid our teachers have a decent salary and benefits! The sky is falling!
Dawn Urbanek January 20, 2014 at 03:29 PM
The Sky IS Falling! 40 kids to a class- $1 Billion in needed building maintenance and repairs - furlough days - fundraising to pay for teachers now!
Dawn Urbanek January 20, 2014 at 03:29 PM
But Thank God the District employees have been taken care of!
shelly January 20, 2014 at 04:43 PM
Dawn, Then pay for more teachers and the building maintenance because all your finger pointing and blogging has done nothing for our children. District Employees on the other hand have taught our children to read, write, equate and have encouraged our kids to be creative.
fact checker January 20, 2014 at 06:03 PM
Dawn, I thought you left this thread because you were unwilling to address questions posed to you. Meanwhile the teachers continue to do their job.
Dawn Urbanek January 20, 2014 at 10:54 PM
Fact Checker- I always answer your questions and site sources- have done so for the past five years- You and Shelly say the same thing over and over so I leave the thread and only respond when someone new says something of interest. So answer my question- do you feel children should sacrifice instructional time to pay teachers more?
shelly January 21, 2014 at 12:20 AM
Dawn, Read back on your comments. You say the same thing over and over and over again. I have asked you many questions that you have not answered. Read back Like what is your definition of fair and equal? Do you believe the teachers of Las Palmas are overcompensated? The CUSD budget has been cut $140 million dollars. The biggest cuts came at the expense of the employees. Employees still do not make as much as they did 5 years ago. Do you believe all the cuts should come from employees? Do you feel that citizens have no responsibility in helping with a budget that does not cover everything? You sacrifice nothing but demand that others sacrifice for our child. You state, ""You educators are arrogant, self serving, annoying and ignorant " and yet you send your child to be educated by these educators. What exactly is your solutions? Do you believe we should just keep cutting the teachers' and school site employees' pay and taking away their benefits? I am asking and Shripathi has asked you this so please answer. Do you believe this will improve education and inspire good candidates to become educators? Do you believe that CA funds education adequately?
fact checker January 21, 2014 at 01:45 AM
No Dawn I don't think teachers are being paid more. Perhaps you will address my questions about the difference between average teacher salary and actual teacher salary. Do you understand the difference?
fact checker January 21, 2014 at 01:46 AM
I have asked this question many times and you refuse to answer it.


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