Dear Editor – School Bond on the Ballot: March or November?

Dear Editor,

I am writing to urge the community to reconsider supporting the upcoming bond proposal which will be put forth by CCUSD for a March ballot. While investments in our schools are essential, it is crucial that we assess the specifics of this proposal and its potential impact by putting this measure on the ballot too early.

Over the past year, it has become increasingly apparent that the School Board has failed to prioritize the best interests of our students and the teachers. Whether it be mismanagement of funds, inadequate planning, procedural irregularities, or sudden shifts in priorities without clear explanations or a lack of transparency, the Board’s decisions in the last year have raised serious doubts about their ability to lead effectively.

One of the major points of contention is that on October 25, 2022 the school board approved the proposal with Brookwood to analyze the real estate holdings of CCUSD. The clear goal with this was to build workforce housing for CCUSD teachers even though there was no desire by a majority of the teachers to support this initiative. This proposal was opposed strongly by many voices in the community through public comments at each meeting leading up to this date. Parents, Teachers and Community members wanted the focus of the Board to be on student achievement, teacher retention, and facilities.

It was brought to the attention of the community on March 30, 2023 that the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office issued a warning letter highlighting the board’s violations of the Brown Act by holding the Brookwood sessions in closed meetings. This revelation raises serious questions about the transparency and legality of the board’s decision-making processes. The Brown Act is in place to ensure that public business is conducted openly and that the community has the right to participate in decisions that affect them. As members of this community, we entrust the school board with the responsibility of making decisions that impact the education and well-being of our children. Discovering that they have been operating in violation of the Brown Act is not only disconcerting but also undermines the trust we place in our elected officials.

It was not until the November 14, 2023, Board Meeting that the discussion of Workforce Housing and Revenue Generating was placed on the agenda for an open discussion and tabled.

Why did the Board suddenly change priorities from addressing workforce housing? This abrupt change raises questions about the consistency of the board’s decision-making process.

The second point of concern is that to get a project list for the March Bond, the school board used a report from DLR Group dated September 24, 2019. On November 13, 2018, the School Board entered into an agreement with DLR Group for a facilities master planning services for an amount not to exceed $242,346. DLR Group delivered this plan almost TEN MONTHS later on September 24, 2019. This was a comprehensive plan which took into account the needs of each CCUSD campus. It included the workforce housing component in its analysis. This report was haphazardly updated in a matter of DAYS and relied upon as the school’s immediate needs for the upcoming March Bond proposal. This outdated report raises questions about the accuracy of the information being used to make critical decisions about our schools.

Instead of engaging in year-long discussions about workforce housing, the School Board should have prioritized the creation and dissemination of an updated facilities report that included the most recent data and needs. This report should have been made readily available to the public, allowing community members to engage in informed discussions about the future of our schools.

There is a growing concern that the board will continue down a path of ill-informed decisions that will burden our community with unnecessary financial strain. It is crucial for our community members to carefully consider the implications of supporting a bond that may end up reinforcing the board’s pattern of poor decision-making.

I encourage fellow community members to engage in open dialogue and write to the school board to support the timing of the Bond measure on the NOVEMBER ballot versus the March ballot. This will allow the DLR Group to thoughtfully update the 2019 report with community and teacher-endorsed project list that adequately reflects the CURRENT shared goals and vision for our schools and students. This report should clearly not include any workforce housing to be built from the Bond proposal. The community needs time to heal from the failures of the School Board. Ensuring that residents feel heard and valued in the decision-making process leading up to a NOVEMBER ballot is the only way this Bond will be a successful.

Chrissy Monroe

The Actors' Gang