Kudos need to go out to the students, parents, and staff of Canyon Ridge High School for showing up at the HUSD budget workshop last night and supporting their valuable alternative education program. But as some misconceptions and erroneous statements were publicly made regarding my positions on this program, I feel compelled to respond and clearly state what my positions actually are in this regard.


I accept all of the consequences for actions that I have taken in my life. And that includes the action that I took at the age of sixteen in which I chose to drop out of high school in Connecticut and then, on the same day, I hitchhiked down to Florida on I-95 to start my adult life. Pretty stupid thing for a very young kid to do, but my life's circumstances were not the rosiest and I saw it as my only option.


I lived on the streets. I worked menial jobs. I struggled, but I survived. Mine is not a sad story for I made great friends, loved my freedom, and I was a productive tax-paying citizen.


I took a leap into adulthood at an early age. It was not easy. I do not recommend this path for any kid to take by choice; but I fully accept the consequences for the action that I chose. I made the choice and I lived with the consequences.


I joined the Marine Corps infantry at age 18. And yes, at that time, the USMC did accept recruits without a high school diploma, particularly since I had no criminal record of any sort. When I got out of the service, honorably, I worked many low-paying jobs because I did not have a high school diploma, until I developed skill sets that permitted me to advance. It took many years of struggling to work my way up and the main inhibitor for me was the lack of a high school diploma. I did, however, regularly attend, and graduate from, the school of hard knocks. This is an easy school to get into, but the curriculum is rather tough.


Later in life, I took and passed the GED in order to pursue a long-held college dream. I continued to work hard and earned an associate degree my first diploma and then finished my college career at CSUSB while being a stay-at-home father to a toddler and triplet infants. And that, my friends, was the hardest work that I have ever done in my entire life.


I know that there are consequences for actions. I teach my own children that there are consequences for their actions. Drugs have consequences. Fighting in school has consequences. Getting expelled from school has consequences. Choices have consequences.


I have said, and still believe, that this school district could not afford to open and operate Canyon Ridge. I have said, and believe, the same thing to be true of Krystal Elementary.


But those are opinions of a fiscal nature, not any moral value I hold. From a value perspective, I personally believe that we cannot afford to not run these programs. So I struggle with determining which side of my brain to listen to when I am faced with extremely difficult and hard impactful financial choices.


Krystal charged out of the gate with an 888 API, which is a phenomenal achievement borne from its dedicated parents, students, and staff efforts. But we could not afford it financially.


Canyon Ridge is a wonderful program. I have not ever said nor ever held the opinion that it wasn't. It is, however, a very expensive program to operate.


I believe that there are no sacred cows when discussing budget cuts. Everything, and I mean everything, must be looked at to ensure that we are maximizing all of our resources toward our students.


The recommendation to "restructure" alternative education programs, in our efforts to reduce our budget expenditures by whatever number you want to buy into and I got several thrown at me last night was made to the board by the superintendent. It was not my idea. We simply have to decide what we can and cannot afford.


And as we are again faced with the most difficult of Sophie's choices, I have to make decisions because that is what I was elected to do.


And I have to make my decisions based upon the information that is provided to me by the sole keepers of the information the district administration at 15576 Main Street. And they, in my experience, do not always like to share the information that taxpayers provided for them. And some of the information they provide is simply wrong.


I cannot support the layoffs of any teacher, particularly after the rescinding of RIFs nonsense last year. I cannot support the layoff of any teacher or staff member while we are paying our ever-growing number of administration cabinet members the high salaries that we are paying them. I cannot support the discontinuance of any vice or assistant principal position as long as we are paying two salaries for an assistant superintendent of personnel position. I find it very hard to support any reductions brought forth by this administration while we are wasting and risking hundreds of thousands of dollars by engaging in lawsuits because the administration and a board majority decided to act irresponsibly and, in my opinion, illegally. We waste public money and it is disgusting to observe.


Many decisions of the past are coming home to roost in this district and there are far less expensive ways out of them than those that are being continued. It is hard to support any cuts while I see tons of money being continuously and stupidly wasted.


All of our programs have tremendous value to students, not just Canyon Ridge. Canyon Ridge Ravens are no more, nor any less, deserving than any other kid in this district.


Canyon Ridge was not singled out, nor was the police department they are simply part of the discussion process on what we need to do to reduce our costs. And everything needs to be on the table during these trying times.


I am immensely proud of the work that is done for students at Sultana, Hesperia High, and Oak Hills High schools. That pride extends to all of our elementary and middle schools as well. But some things will have to give during these unprecedented economic times. That is fact.


Show up and voice your thoughts. This school board, in my opinion, is listening to all. Let's work together to solve these problems, but we must, unfortunately, act quickly. Kelly Ford, a wonderful teacher for our kids said it best last night she simply wants to part of the discussion regarding decisions that impacts our school district. She wants her voice to be heard, and it was.