After serving over six months as interim superintendent, Patricia Jaffe was recently appointed to the job.
By Anne Louise Bannon, Culver City Patch | http://bit.ly/gviMca
29 March 2011 | 11:42am - While Patricia Jaffe has been doing the job of schools superintendent as the interim superintendent for the Culver City Unified School District since last July, she was officially given the title only recently.
<< Patricia Jaffe at March 22 School Board Meeting | Credit Anne Louise Bannon
She spoke with Patch about her history with the district and the challenges she faces in the current budget environment.
Jaffe started with the Culver City school district in 1970, when she was still in school at the University of Southern California.
"I student taught at the junior high and the high school and they had an opening, so I took it," she said.
She's seen a lot of changes since then, including Culver City Junior High becoming Culver City Middle School.
"When I first started, we had eight elementary schools. Then we went down to five elementary schools," she said.
In a time of severe budget pressures and greater demands, one would think that the job of schools superintendent would not be the plum job, but Jaffe said she was okay with it.
"I wanted to do it because I think that Culver City... needs a leader who knows the community," she said. "So even though we're going to be going through some difficult times, I want to be sure that we can stay on the path that we've been on, which is excellence for our students."
But she's facing some difficult challenges and trying to plan around a lot of uncertainty. District staff still doesn't know how much money the district will get from the state for next year, partly because of the possible tax extensions and partly because they don't know how many students they'll have. Districts are paid by the student and up to 25 percent of CCUSD students actually live in the Los Angeles Unified School District. Jaffe said that there's an ongoing discussion with the LAUSD about whether all of those students can continue in CCUSD.
Then there was the recent round of lay-off notices sent to 19 teachers, which has union representatives angry. At a recent school board meeting, board member Karlo Silbiger questioned Jaffe's salary.
"I think everyone's feeling the challenge right now and the uncertainty," Jaffe said.
But she remains optimistic that everyone will be able to work together in spite of their differences.
"If we could all come together and talk through this,we can come up with a plan that's going to work," she said. "Because we have open communication [between teachers and administration], we will be able to survive this. It may not be pretty, but we will be able to survive. We're all here for one thing and that's to educate the students. And if we keep our focus there, we can get beyond the issues that are facing the school board and the unions also."
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