October 24th, 2016 | Opinion

No on Measure X, by Carol Mills

[Note: the FCDCC has not taken a position on ballot Measure X]
Sent: Monday, October 24, 2016 9:42 AM
From: Mills, Carol <carolmillsfusd@comcast.net>
Subject: NO on Measure X

Dear Friends,

If you have received this email before, please excuse the duplication. This is an important issue.

I am OPPOSED to Measure X, a position that I do not take lightly, as I have always in the past supported school bonds.

I do believe that 2018 would be a better time to seek a school bond, when the FBI investigation and lease-leaseback litigation will hopefully be resolved. In addition, this bond has been rushed through, with only a two week window for community input that was shortly after school started, and very little outreach to the community to solicit input. Then, when FUSD did receive some input from the Fresno High region and others, it was ignored. I think if FUSD were to do a larger, well planned bond with lots of community input, it could pass in 2018.

As to Fresno High, the district has decided to take out basketball courts, some tennis courts, and some of our precious little field/open space to put in a small second gym, which parents, staff and I have stated we don’t have room for at this time. We do have a list of other facility needs we would like addressed, but FUSD is not responsive. The FH staff have told FUSD this proposal adversely impacts P.E. and athletics, but district staff persist in moving forward on this idea. It confounds me.

Others in the Fresno High region remember vividly the promise made by FUSD in 2010 that the long-term site master plan for Fresno High provide for removal of north and south academic halls and replacing them with multi-story buildings with a smaller footprint that will open up the space needed for a second gym and provide more open space. The district has unilaterally decided to go back on this promise and intends to leave these buildings that were deemed “educationally unsuitable” by an outside firm in 2010. FH lacks open space and is at about 50% of the state recommended ratio; we need multi-story buildings for open space requirements. We also deserve to have educationally suitable buildings, as were provided to Hoover and Bullard when outdated permanent buildings were placed with modern educational facilities.

It also is troubling that FUSD has been paying staff salaries from bond money – over $4 million of Measure Q went to salaries to date. This isn’t disclosed in the reports to the bond oversight committee; FUSD includes it in “projects costs.” This means salaries are being financed over 30 years and FUSD plans to continue this in X. So the real cost is doubled, at least.

I do know from the size of the bond, most schools will receive nothing and this will likely upset people. The project list released by the district on October 14 shows a lot of deferred maintenance items; indicates the schools “may” receive money for projects from X; and makes some projects contingent on a state bond passing (polls show it is failing). Plus, when I asked for the estimated cost of a second gym, the response from staff was that FUSD “didn’t know” and it “would depend.” If FUSD hasn’t done a cost projection for projects, how can we know what can be done? Will staff even follow the list, because the specific list wasn’t Board approved and isn’t binding?

Will they use local contractors? There is no commitment to do so. Both the Chamber and Building Trades refused to support X, despite being asked to do so, and have remained neutral.

Will X be subject to legal attack if it passes? Charter schools are legally entitled to be provided with “reasonably equivalent” facilities by the district in which they operate. Charters asked to be included in the bond and were denied by district administration, creating legal issues around allocation and spending of bond money. The Charter School Association is opposing the bond, as is the Lincoln Club.

I am asking voters to vote No on X and allow FUSD to do it right in 2018, with community input and transparency.

Sincerely,

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