Last November, local voters passed a measure combining three K-6 districts and one 7-12 district into California's newest, Twin Rivers Unified School District.
I spent 11 1/2 of my 13 years of K-12 education in two of the districts making up Twin Rivers. I spent 5 years as a student, and 4 years as a teacher, in the Grant District. You'd think I'd be disappointed to see this element from my life go away, but nothing could be further from the truth. It's long past time for Grant to disappear.
Creating a unified school district from four relatively underperforming districts isn't automatically going to create a bunch of Stanford-bound students. Having coordinated curricula might help improve instruction as well as learning, though.
But the best reason for Grant to go the way of the dodo is it was just a horrible place to work. It was poorly managed, mismanaged, or not managed for over 30 years. There was constant strife between the district office and the teachers, strife that became almost unbearable under Superintendent Larry "Ratboy" Buchanan--whose only goal in life seemed to be to get good enough at something to merit having a school named after him, like his father did near Fresno. He failed miserably at that goal. His legacy was the dissolution of the Grant District, a fitting legacy for someone who should have disappeared himself several years ago.
It's clear my contempt for this man knows no bounds. Getting rid of Ratboy, though, which happened shortly before the election, wasn't enough; Grant had become so dysfunctional over the past few decades that the district administration needed a complete, bottom-to-top overhaul. There was no one--and I do mean no one--at that district office with any idea of how a school district should be run, or with any idea that one could be run without personal vendettas, cults of personality, vindictiveness, and corruption.
A school board has already been elected for Twin Rivers, and it does not include any of the former Grant board members. That school board has already named some of the district officers, including an interim superintendent, and none of those officers comes from the former Grant District.
I know the person who's trying to merge the four districts' teachers' contracts into a new Twin Rivers contract. He's picking the best parts from each contract and piecing them together to form Twin Rivers', and if the board approves his work, those teachers will be among the best compensated (in overall package) in the area! My current district used to hold that position, but it's slipped far in the past several years. When the Twin Rivers contract is ratified, I'll make sure my own local union takes a look-see at it in an effort to shame our district into paying a little more.
I wish this new district luck. Everyone with a stake in Twin Rivers deserves for it to be a well-run, high-quality education system. It has much potential and promise--let's all hope it lives up to that potential.