The process of identifying construction and maintenance needs at all of the campuses started over 8 months ago. Two of the School Board members, Laura Chardiet and Kathy Paspalis, were intrinsically involved with staff, principals, parent groups, teachers, and construction people to identify over $165 million of maintenance, repair, refurbishment, health and safety concerns which are on all of the school sites. The Board voted to hire a consultant to assess the feasibility of placing a bond measure on the November ballot. The deadline for placing that measure on the ballot was in early August.
The Board voted to pay around $27,000 for a representative survey of likely voters which contacted 400 voters. The survey showed that over 66% of the respondents approved placing a bond measure on the ballot. At the July meeting, when the decision had to be made to meet the election deadline and after the survey results were presented, Board member Karlo Silbiger raised a slew of questions that could have been easily addressed during the entire process. Why didn’t he raise those questions to give staff and the district adequate time to research and prepare answers? Questions that may have come up after could have been properly addressed and answered or a process could have been put into place to address them. As for educating the voting public, educational forums could have been scheduled to further increase awareness and explain the construction needs to the community, to explain economic ramifications, especially to the senior citizens, who, we know are very diligent about voting.
There were 4 months between July and the November election. 4 months in which a lot of education, prioritizing, and planning could have been done.
Instead the bond measure has been shelved and may or may not make it on to the next ballot. Another $27,000 or more dollars will be spent to again assess the mood of the voters, assessments of each campus will likely have to be repeated resulting in staff, parents, and interested parties having to repeat their hard work.
At the end of the day another 6 months, a year, or more will pass before critical needs even start to be addressed and our kids will still be endangered by falling roof tiles, corroded plumbing, uneven pavements, inadequate heating and cooling and other clearly identified problems. Getting funding for a bond, designing fixes, construction plans, consulting suppliers, having the School Board vote to approve suppliers, projects and builders, getting State approval where needed, consulting an oversight committee; these all take a significant amount of time.
Help me understand why is this happening? Why weren’t pertinent questions and concerns raised earlier? Our kids, our wonderful teachers, our administrators, and our hard working staff people deserve better. At this rate, I suspect many of the needs of the schools will not be addressed until my son is in college; he just started high school.
We voters, including the many seniors in the community, deserve the right to vote in a timely manner to decide the future of our schools and our community. This community overwhelmingly supported the Parcel Tax when the needs were explained. It is likely that they will support a bond as well.