Written by – Karen Hersh ( Current Hyde Parent and Yosemite Program Advocate)
Hello Past, Present and Future 8th Grade Parents in CUSD,
I know many of you and I am hoping those of you I know, will forward this message to other parents in our district. There was a big change made to the Yosemite Program for next year made year at a CUSD Board meeting earlier this year. The position for organizing Yosemite at the district level has been removed. I realize that there are always cuts that need to be made. However, with this cut we lose a person with many years of experience who has been running the program that organizes 2000 students to attend Yosemite over 5 weeks. The amount of detail that it takes at every level of this trip is unbelievable. This position helps support the schools in their efforts to make their weeks successful working closely with the administrators and lead teachers. When there is a change in administration or lead teachers there is a shadow system and/or buddy system that she facilitates for schools to work together. The person in the position has attended Yosemite as a chaperone or extra administrator during to help schools learn the ropes. The work that the person was in charge of could be passed on to another person, but only if that person doesn’t already have too much work already. We should worry about what this person knows about the program because they will have to learn all the ins and outs of the organizing on the fly for the program next year. I am worried without a plan that this will get pushed back on administrators and then to lead teachers. If more work gets handed down to the administrators and lead teachers, it will be the end of the program. I have watched lead teachers give up so many lunches and free time and I am only popping in to help. I can only imagine how much organizing it takes at the school level with more work this task would be overwhelming. If asked I am sure that lead teachers would already say the task is overwhelming. In fact there is a high turn over for this role and it is extremely hard to find people to step in when someone leaves. Many schools and districts are getting rid of these amazing opportunities because they demand a large amount of money and time from the district and it’s employees. Many districts only have a trip during Spring Break. If our district were to switch to a program such as this it would mean only about 500 students across the district would be able to attend.
We have a new superintendent and I am concerned about where he stands on Yosemite. Does he see the value and understand the overwhelming amount of work for the organizer? What changes may be in store for the Yosemite Program? Will it be downsized and there will be a much smaller group of students that will attend? Will it be changed to a individual schools decision to go or not, based on whether the administrator wants to accept all the extra work involved?
Not having a knowledgeable point person at the district office will definitely take a toll on the program. Each year it has gotten harder to make sure we don’t lose this program for our district and our kids. Please write an email to the CUSD board and the superintendent letting them know how important it is for your child to have this experience and/or how important it was that your child was able to experience this program. I am hoping that you might have time to do this before the next board meeting. I will be attending the April 24th Board Meeting at the District Office 1309 S. Mary Avenue, Sunnyvale in the board room at 6:00PM. Yosemite is not on the agenda but there is time to speak for 3 minutes if you get a card prior to the meeting. If the subject is deemed important it will be added to the agenda at a future meeting. This is why I would like emails fro the board and the superintendent. I want to make sure that proper consideration is given to support this program and I would like to have some transparency about how it will be run from the district next year and in future years.
Things to mention in your email: the growth of your child that you noticed after the trip, what it meant to you if you chaperoned, what does your child feel they learned about themselves or about working with others during the week. The most important message to get across is how important the experience of this trip is for our children. If you are reading this letter and don’t know me, I have three sons who have already gone on this trip and I have chaperoned five times. Each trip has been a completely unique experience. I have become more involved as the program has been threatened because of funding. All of my children have no attended Yosemite Program so I no longer need the program for my children. I am doing this for your children because I believe in this program.
Please send your an email to all five board members as well as the superintendent and pass on this email to anyone who has children that would like their children to have this opportunity when they reach 8th grade. ( If this email reaches you and your children have already attended Yosemite, please consider writing an email in support of the program.)
Current Hyde Parent
Yosemite Program Advocate
When signing your letter please list your child(rens) grade(s) and school(s). I am hoping that we can get support on this from families from all the schools in the district.
Soma McCandless – President
Kristen Lyn – Vice-President
Phyllis Vogel – Clerk of the Board
Dr. Liang-Fang “Liang” Chao – Board Member
Anjali Kausar – Board Member
Dr. Craig Baker– Superintendent