We recommend a yes vote on PUSD Measure J
While $90 million is an awful lot of money, we feel the investment in education and the future of the children of this community is worth the cost.
The Porterville Unified School District is asking voters to approve the massive bond measure — if passed it will be the largest in Tulare County history —and require a leap of faith from 55% of voters in the district – that the school district will continue to be good stewards of our tax dollars, keeping the best interest of our children in mind.
The district is also asking property owners to add on average $45 per $100,000 of assessed value to their property bills every year, that is equivalent to about .12 cents per day.
Porterville resident John Hardin has raised some serious issues with the bond, some we agree with. However, without the bonds and the financial mess the state is in, it could be years, even decades, before needed improvements and upgrades are made to our local schools.
Simply put, our children deserve the best learning environment we can give them.
Mr. Hardin’s most serious issue is with the “leap of faith” as he puts it that the district is asking voters to make. Mr. Hardin argues and we agree that the district has been vague in how the $90 million will be spent, pointing to the lack of a defined list of priorities as to how the money will be allocated. In a meeting with The Recorder’s editorial board, PUSD Superintendent Dr. John Snavely said because of uncertainty of how much money will be available from the state — he said the district is assured of $27 million in matching funds — and not knowing for certain what projects will actually cost, made it difficult to pin down a specific list of projects.
He said voters should be assured that construction of new classrooms will be among the first priorities in order for the district to take advantage of state matching funds and none of these dollars will go to teacher salaries or benefits.
Many people have raised issues with the technology portion of the district’s plans. However, in this ever changing world where technology becomes more and more key every day, the district needs to catch up. Again, Dr. Snavely said any upgrades in technology will have to come as part of a statewide plan so whatever software or equipment that is purchased is compatible with state software, especially when it comes to e-textbooks — textbooks on a electronic reader rather than in paper form.
What strikes us most as needed are the upgrades to classrooms and replacing the more than 50 module classrooms with new, modern and permanent classrooms. Those modules, some which have been around for more than three decades, were not designed to be used that long and are long overdue for replacing.
Upgrades to infrastructure, such as heating and cooling systems, are also a must.
Mr. Hardin’s argument that the school district has not been clear with its plans is well taken and we hope the district is listening. If the bond measure passes — we would like to see the school board of trustees communicate their priorities down to specific projects and site locations to the public. They should also communicate when dollars are spent as projects are completed and even consider holding a special meeting to get input from the community as to what projects they would like to see done first.
For the children of Porterville, we are willing to take this “leap of faith” and recommend a yes vote on Measure J on November 6.