Bill Cirone, Santa Barbara Superintendant of Schools

With one year winding down and a new year about to begin, I’d like to take this opportunity to say thanks on behalf of our public schools to all the business and community members who supported their local classrooms in so many ways throughout 2011.

It shows that even in very challenging times we can join hands in partnership and help support what is so valuable to our community.

Parents volunteer in their local classrooms. PTA members play invaluable roles at every school. Relatives and friends support local fundraisers, and neighbors pitch in at every turn. I’d especially like to thank the local business community who show strong support of our schools in so many ways, both large and small.

Businesses have contributed hundreds of thousands of dollars to support The Teachers Network, a program that recognizes outstanding teachers and spreads their successful classroom ideas.

Businesses have also contributed to the invaluable Computer Connections program that helps low-income students get computers.

Members of local businesses also help serve as mentors, making themselves available for shadow programs of all sorts. They help pitch in with vocational and career programs at local schools, helping prepare young people for the world of work. Many take part in Principal for a Day, learning more about challenges and accomplishments of our schools, and adding their own expertise.

This is all what’s been referred to as “enlightened self-interest,” because students in today’s classrooms will be tomorrow’s workforce and leaders. Still, in challenging times, the level of support and the range of resources, is extremely impressive and greatly appreciated.

Those of us who work in public education feel that what we do is very important to the future of our community. But we couldn’t maintain the quality of all our programs without the full support of the community we serve.

So please accept my sincere gratitude for helping in ways both large and small to make this community a better place for young people and families. That support is evident at every turn and it is deeply appreciated.