Published Oct. 6, 2022
BY SHAYLA DUTTA
To those who have been involved in Carmel Unified School District’s discourse on stadium lights, COVID-19 protocols, the superintendent hiring process or the district’s public records, this is a plea to keep our community’s youth in mind.
Despite being the subject of many of the issues that have arisen in past years, students have been largely left out of these discussions and considerations.
An example is the current issue gripping the community: whether CUSD can install stadium lights on Carmel High School’s multi-use field, the topic of discussion at a Sept. 6 special board meeting, which served as a platform for nearly 30 community members to denounce the project.
Several people attempted to make comments on behalf of the students, often related to the success or importance of the CHS football team. If critics truly were to speak for the students, they would instead account for the project’s impacts upon the entire student body, not only the football team. These lights are intended to help make winter sports safer and allow for later practices to ease the school’s transition to a later start time, as well as offer a boost to school spirit.
The stadium lights project is not perfect, and many of the speakers offered serious feedback or valid complaints. Yet it is important to note that the proposed changes seek to benefit not only the current community, but thousands of students, parents, friends and teams for years to come.
One resident asserted that the actions proposed in the Environmental Impact Report would change the soul of Carmel. If rallying more constructive support for Carmel’s future generations means changing the soul of the town, then perhaps it is something worth considering. For any large project taking place in a small community, there will be impacts and drawbacks. When weighing them, it is important to do so with the students in mind.
Another community effort that appears to lack consideration for the students affected is the onslaught of Public Records Requests burying CUSD staff in an excess of busywork. The California Public Records Act requires any government records be disclosed to the public upon request. CUSD has received more than 70 of these time-intensive requests since the start of the 2021 school year, with 16 currently pending.
The pushback against these requests is not, as some have suggested, an attempt to hide unconscionable actions or communications, but rather frustration against petty legal action that is ultimately being used to obstruct the district.
To those behind these requests, please keep the students in mind. The vast quantity of these requests serve only to drain resources that could otherwise be devoted to CUSD’s students and staff.
Struggles with the district on other issues, such the past struggle with its COVID-19 protocols, are also issues that, in the end, can take away time and money from students. Some individuals have taken the extreme action of launching unfounded attacks on the character of CUSD’s staff, volunteers and officials, from which no one stands to benefit. Those who have done so exhibit a clear disregard for the targeted staff and the community they serve.
To those who have helped to improve the district and support its community through alternative perspectives and outside feedback, thank you. But when formulating these opinions, arguing against the school board or taking action on important topics, please don’t forget the students.