12/13/17 Letter to the Community from the Future Focused Schools Team

December 13, 2017


    When we first met, the volunteer members of the Future Focused Schools Team were a disparate group, many of whom had never met. Brought together with the clear purpose of exploring and analyzing options for our beloved Beverly Hills Unified School District, we are parents of current and former students, community members, alumni, city employees, current and former teachers and administrative staff.


     With such a large and diverse group, and coming from a myriad different BHUSD experiences – both positive and negative - we often engage in spirited debates with one another, yet we remain open minded with each other, and with the community at large. Over these past weeks, one thing remains clear: we share a driving common passion for our public schools.


     We continue to work together with that passion for our district. Our goal has two primary components: to maximize educational and enrichment opportunities for our students and to ensure fiscal responsibility and sustainability for the district. We are striving to find paths toward creating a 21st century version of the “lighthouse district” we had once been, a focus of pride for our community that matriculates students who have achieved their potential, broadened their horizons, enriched their knowledge and fulfilled their dreams.


     If you’ve talked to any one of us, you’ll know that we all feel we’ve had a crash course in “BHUSD 101,” and now we’re in sort of an “AP BHUSD.” All of the materials that form the basis of our education and our growing knowledge of the District are available on-line to the entire community, albeit without the extremely helpful tutelage from the administrators who support our back and forth conversations.


     And that’s just what this has been: a conversation.


     Your FFST is not locked into any single position. We may find more than one solution in this process. We are not tasked with a School Board or Administrative agenda. We are not burdened by budgetary expectations, and we operate under no cloud of a systemic bias. We are in conversation with each other and with the community. Our meetings and homework involve analysis of the facts: finances, enrollment, delivery of education at the primary, middle school and high school levels, enrichment programs, counseling, intervention, transitions, special ed, athletics, facilities, and more. We are looking at the history of our District, listening to the hopes and dreams of current parents, students and teachers, as well as researching the systems utilized by competitive districts and private schools in our area. With that in mind, we are diving deeply into a look at the current/future BHUSD TK-8 model (or some version of that), and options for a BHUSD version of the TK-5/6-8 model.


     We have asked our District administrators to put together the financial, educational, enrichment, and facility information we need so that we can examine all of the options that have been floated by our team and by many members of our community. We are focused on recommendations that will optimize and deliver the best education to our students, not one that is merely economically viable or systemically efficient. We want schools that are exceptional, dynamic and filled with potential for even more growth.


     As of our December 6 evening meeting, we are continuing the conversation. We are still that disparate group with myriad experiences who share a passion for our city’s schools. We hope to present to our community and to the School Board an educated and real-world view of the options available.


     The mere thought of change may feel uncomfortable to many in our community, but we are tasked with working toward securing a sustainable, vibrant, world-class 21st  century education system. A system that is consistent with our current budget and provides for all of the children and families in our community.


     We would love to hear from you, and please remember that our work is far from done. On the contrary, it is still in progress and we welcome your ideas, solutions, fears, hopes and dreams. Please join us in this ongoing conversation.


The Future Focused Schools Team


Kevin Allen, Teri Angel, Jocelyn Bresnick, Merle Bauer, Kimberly Combs, Lee Egerman, Mark Frenn, Christian Fuhrer, Fred Gluckman, Kari Kramer, Jory Lindsay, Mark Mead, Sean Nassirzadeh, Molly Peterson, Jonathan Prince, Franny Rennie, Mark Slavkin, Ethan Smith, Ronit Stone, Kim Timmerman, Tristen Walker, Marvin Winans