Editorial: Use Your Voice and Vote


(Jessica Bukowski)

By Editorial Staff

As students in a historically generously-funded school system, we are no strangers to the threat of budget cuts. But this year was the first time in recent memory that reductions in the district budget directly impacted student programs and classrooms. Six months ago, the Tamalpais Unified High School District (TUHSD) was plunged into a $3 million budget deficit after the failure of Measure B in March. One month into the school year, we are experiencing the repercussions of the subsequent $1.4 million in programming cuts. This November, Marin County will vote on Measure M, a renewal of the district’s current parcel tax which accounts for $16.8 million in annual funding, or 17 percent of the yearly budget. Now, more than ever, voter turnout plays a crucial role in the future of our schools.

Due to the failure of Measure B, the Team program, a one-year alternative learning opportunity that included backpacking trips, volunteering, and internship opportunities for juniors in the district, was suspended through this year. Although this is a one-year suspension, the program’s leaders have stated repeatedly that it is unlikely that the program will be able to return in the future. Journalism release periods were cut, resulting in the cancellation of High School 1327’s print magazine. The Tam News has undergone a change in advisor due to the loss of release periods, and may be unable to produce a print magazine when in-person learning resumes.

Class sizes have increased across the district, the impact of which will be more evident after the eventual return to classroom learning, where we will see textbooks and supplies stretched even thinner and less one-on-one time with teachers. As a result, several courses have reached maximum occupancy, sending students scrambling to fulfill graduation requirements. As Advanced Placement (AP) class enrollments continue to climb each year, more and more students are turned away, which raises concern over the limited number of district teachers qualified to teach AP classes. 

In a time where we are faced with new, daunting challenges each day, the added stress of budget cuts has created panic and hopelessness among students, as we watch our favorite programs become underfunded or cease to exist altogether. The failure of Measure M and every resulting budget reduction will harm the student body even more. 

As students continue to grapple with the very real consequences of Measure B’s failure, it’s difficult to visualize the significant loss of resources and programming that will ensue if Measure M doesn’t receive the two-thirds majority vote in November.

Teachers who aren’t tenured could be let go, class sizes will balloon, and school resources and campus management will dwindle. All the programs that make our district and school unique are at stake: Avid, AIM, art, peer resource, WISE mentoring, the Wellness Center, drama, journalism, and so many others. The wide range of elective offerings in the district is also at risk, including art, science, and english electives. These programs are the backbone of student success in the district, are what inspire creativity and originality from students, and allow us to have new experiences, build connections, and expand our knowledge. We cannot afford any further cuts to our education because it has reached the point where it will jeopardize our futures.

There is an urgent need for all registered voters, especially young people, to vote. It’s often not acknowledged how large of a role our local and state officials play in deciding the legislation that directly impacts our lives. All elected Mill Valley City Council members serve as mayor before their term expires, so a vote for city council is a vote for your future mayor. The TUHSD Board of Trustees has the final say in budget decisions, and two members’ terms are up for reelection this year. 

Voter registration in California ends on October 19. We implore you to exercise your right to vote, whether by safely casting your ballot in person or by sending in your mail-in ballot before November 3. Vote because the future of our schools, our county, and our generation, are all at stake.

See the infographic below for measures and propositions The Tam News supports.

(Jordan Cushner)