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Our View: Measure E is a smart investment

Posted: October 2, 2011 1:55 a.m.
Updated: October 2, 2011 1:55 a.m.

Mike Clear, assistant superintendent of business services for the Newhall School District, speaks in the aging auditorium at Newhall Elementary School in Newhall on Aug. 18.

 

Some of our learning institutions are showing signs of age, but we can help refurbish and modernize them with an upcoming vote.

Unfortunately, repairs and improvements cost money, but the Newhall School District has proposed Measure E, a bond initiative that would extend 1999’s Measure K bond, which is set to expire in 2025, through to 2050.

In essence, it provides $60 million in much-needed work and technology upgrades to its 10 schools without raising taxes on local voters. It simply extends the added property tax that residents already pay to ensure that we have some of the highest-rated elementary schools in the country.

And, as we’ve said before, having top-notch local schools helps out the entire SCV, even if you don’t have kids currently in school.

Clean, well-maintained schools that produce well-rounded students who place high in standardized testing are a huge draw for businesses that are considering moving into the area, because it demonstrates that this is a quality environment to raise a family.

That, in turn, helps out the local economy and brings more jobs to the area — and that leads to added tax revenue for local governments for more public projects, such as parks and road maintenance.

Also, highly rated schools are one of the best selling points for real estate agents, keeping property values high and further helping the local economy.

Voting for Measure E is a smart investment in the community because all of the money is guaranteed to go toward the schools — not administration or any wasteful projects. And good schools make for good places to live.

Planned work includes replacing aging portable classrooms with permanent structures; adding new computers, servers, classroom and library technology and teaching equipment to enhance instruction; installing high-speed Internet connections and wireless service; upgrading the phone and communications systems; and renovating decades-old multipurpose rooms. Of the big renovations, the district is planning to revive the long-unused Newhall Elementary auditorium, which has been little more than a 5,000-square-foot warehouse for roughly 40 years.

There’s also a plan to upgrade much of the climate-control and lighting systems to reduce electricity costs in the long run, because, as Superintendent Mark Winger said at a recent meeting with the Editorial Board, the district currently has an annual Southern California Edison bill of approximately $1 million.

Putting in energy-efficient air-conditioning units and lighting can cut that down by thousands of dollars, which could be better used on education instead of being wasted on old, wasteful buildings.

And, as for the timing of this vote, given that it won’t take effect on local homeowners for another 14 years — our schools simply cannot wait that long for the proposed repairs and improvements.

If we waited until closer to 2025 to fix aging roofs, replace already-10-year-old computers and renovate multipurpose rooms, then the schools and our young students would suffer the consequences, and the school district would be looking at much more expensive fixes in the long run than this $60 million bond. Many of these projects are slated to begin within a year or so of Measure E being approved, because the longer the district waits the more money is wasted on deteriorating facilities and inefficient energy usage.

This bond measure is slated to be voted on in the Nov. 8 election, admittedly an election in which voter turnout is expected to be low. But we hope voters in the Newhall School District turn out in force to pass this measure. Issues such as these have a significant and immediate impact on the local community.

Our high-quality schools are a hallmark of the Santa Clarita Valley, and we’ve all benefited from them in some way, no matter how indirect.

Come November, a “Yes” vote on Measure E is a vote for the future of our children, the future of our schools and the future of the Santa Clarita Valley.

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