I was very pleased to be invited by the Oakdale Chamber of Commerce to present the Oakdale Junior Achievement Award nominees’ profiles at the Annual Awards Banquet. There were seven outstanding Oakdale High School students nominated for this prestigious award. The award was presented the evening of January 15, but at the time I submitted this article, I did not know who won the award.
I read over the nominations and I am convinced that the quality of young adults coming out of the community of Oakdale is exceptional. The accolades attributed to these individuals have several common themes. They are friendly, honest, courteous, and unselfish. They volunteer countless hours through various venues such as scouts, churches, clubs and charitable organizations. They serve in leadership roles and accept tremendous responsibility. They contribute when called upon. These students really try to give something back to Oakdale and to improve the lives of people in our community.
The students nominated are: Korinne Baxter, Nikki Kupper, Todd Medema, Kristin Mello, Amy Peterson, Pablo Rodriguez, J.T. Vizenor. After reading their activities and accomplishments I realize that all of them are deserving of recognition. In a time when we often hear about the shortcomings of young adults, I am pleased to share the more positive and accurate account of Oakdale’s youth. I realize that there are dozens and dozens of other young people enrolled at Oakdale High who have similar characteristics as the seven young adults that I have mentioned by name. I am very pleased that the majority of our students have made a decision to be great citizens and to do what is right.
On a less positive note, in my November Superintendent’s Spotlight that appeared in The Oakdale Leader, my final paragraph read “Hard (financial) times are coming in spite of all the wonderful efforts made by the Oakdale community. This crisis is not the consequence of a lack of planning or dedication. Nonetheless, it will take a toll.”
Well, hard financial times are here for California schools and a toll will be taken from Oakdale Joint Unified School District. According to the latest proposed budget, Governor Schwarzenegger, in spite of saying he would protect education funding in this budget, has suggested re-benchmarking the funding formula (Prop 98) for public schools. This restructuring will again reduce the amount of money we will receive this year and in subsequent years.
Our school board will once again be faced with making difficult decisions. The first round of cuts was difficult and the next round will be wrenching. The Oakdale Joint Unified School District Board of Trustees: Pam Antinetti, William Dyer, Diane Gilbert, Mike House, and Mike Tozzi, is a group of dedicated community members who truly want to do what is best for the children and community of Oakdale and will work together to get us through this economic crisis.
The additional cuts to the OJUSD budget will be between one to two million dollars. Currently, the OJUSD spends over 80 percent of all our funds on salaries; therefore, cuts of this magnitude will inevitably affect employment, salary, or both. As I have mentioned in my November column, “The school district will need your (the community’s) support more than ever. Thank you for your help and assistance both in the past and in the future.”
Superintendent’s Spotlight is a monthly column provided by Oakdale Joint Unified School District Superintendent Fred Rich, updating the community with information about school district activities.