Bill Cirone, Santa Barbara Superintendent of Schools

With a new year beginning, it is a fitting time to say thanks on behalf of our public schools to all the business and community members who supported our local classrooms in so many ways throughout 2013.

Even in very challenging times it’s clear that we can join hands in partnership and help bolster one of our community’s most valuable assets.

Members of the community help in ways that are impossible to overstate. Parents volunteer in local classrooms. PTA members play invaluable roles at every school. Relatives and friends support fundraisers, and neighbors pitch in at every turn, attending sports events, concerts, and plays. That support means so much to the young people who witness it every day, when they see first-hand that the adults around them value what is happening in their classrooms.

I’d also like to thank the local business community whose strong support of our schools is evident in 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. That program helps make a difference one classroom at a time, and has demonstrated its worth to local students countywide.

Businesses have also contributed to the invaluable Computers for Families program in the South County and Computer Connections program in the North County. These programs provide low-income students with computers and help erase the “digital divide” that separates those with access to technology from those without.

Members of local businesses also serve as mentors, making themselves available for shadow programs. They pitch in with vocational and career programs at local schools, helping prepare young people for the world of work. Many take part in Career Day programs, and in Principal for a Day, which helps them see first-hand the challenges and accomplishments of our schools while they add their own expertise as support.

Students in today’s classrooms will be tomorrow’s workforce and leaders. The level of support and the range of resources provided by community members are both extremely impressive and greatly appreciated.

People who work at every level of public education feel that what they do is very important to the future of our community. But those of us who work in that environment simply couldn’t maintain the quality of all our programs without the full support of the community we serve.

As a new year begins, it’s the perfect time to express the gratitude we all have to members of the public and the business community for helping in ways both large and small to make our county a better place for young people and families. There is no doubt this will pay dividends in the future for all.