As I read about the current debate on the school capital improvement and repair bond, and hear the many voices regarding the decision of three school board members to delay their position on the proposed bond measure to repair the schools and fund capital improvements, it occurs to me that the real issue here is not the bond, but one of community leadership.
I have not heard anyone debate whether the Culver City schools need repairs. In fact, even the three board members that acted to kill the bond for this November elections seem to agree that Culver City schools are in urgent need of repairs and capital improvements.
So the real issue is leadership – who is really working to steer our schools’ infrastructure toward full health and vitality?
The school bond issue is not new. It has been discussed in the community for more than seventeen months, and been before the board members for at least seven. But when it came time for an up or down voice, at the last meeting at which it could qualify for this November’s ballot, these three board members (Karlo Silbiger, Patricia Siever and Nancy Goldberg) punted, voting instead to postpone the matter until at least next year, in order to “study it more”.
One can only wonder what these three board members have being doing for the last seven months. Why hadn’t they discharged their duties as school board members to conduct their due diligence beforehand, knowing that the July 1st school board meeting was the last chance to get this important decision before the voters this year?
I would have had no problem if these board members had voiced against the bond measure, because at least that would have shown that they had done their homework and studied the issue, and were making the kind of decisions leaders are elected to make. Instead, they showed up unprepared, not having done their homework, not having formed an opinion and, as one article described it …. “Kicking the can”.
Our school facilities are not a can.
Silbiger, Seiver and Goldberg’s actions suggest that their true motives may have been to suppress the bond measure or kill it altogether. Is it not disingenuous to proclaim you support the idea of a bond, but then do not do what is necessary to present it to the voters? Instead, they have ensured that that our school facilities will continue to deteriorate, ultimately costing the taxpayers more by waiting until the deferred repairs and improvements become critical. The health of our schools has a direct impact on the health of our community and our homes.
What about the students, teachers and administrators that spend their time there? I am sure they would not want to see board members procrastinate when they clearly could have done their homework and presented an opinion prior to this board hearing… especially the ones with termites raining in their rooms, or with other serious infrastructure issues.
I applaud Kathy Paspalis and Laura Chardiet – the two board members who aren’t afraid to act as the leaders they were elected to be. They visited schools, saw what needed to be done, and explored ways to fund the repairs and improvements in a challenging economic environment. The bond measure is one of those ways, and now it cannot even be considered. Let the community ultimately decide; do not spend public money to research and then not take a stand and lead us toward better schools.
Our school board members need to be prepared to do the work they were elected to do in a timely, responsible fashion and come to a decision. Which brings me back to my point that this is really about is leadership: Who is willing to do the hard work of leading, and who is content to sit idly by?
Mark Galanty, Culver City Resident