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On Tuesday, vote ‘yes’ for Measure SA

Posted: October 29, 2008 8:00 p.m.
Updated: December 31, 2008 5:00 a.m.

On Nov. 4, the citizens of the Santa Clarita Valley will be asked to vote to support Measure SA, a school facilities bond sponsored by the William S. Hart Union High School District.

Your vote on the school bond is one of the most significant decisions you will make because of its effect on the school district and our community.

I want to take this opportunity to make the personal connection why you should vote in favor of passing Measure SA.

Among the many reasons are: to maintain the high academic performance of the school district, to increase capacity for housing students and to improve maintenance and operations costs by modernizing deteriorating buildings and their infrastructure.

To decide whether or not to support the bond, I decided to visit the schools that had work completed through the current bond, Measure V.

I was amazed at the changes at Saugus and Canyon high schools, Arroyo Seco and Placerita junior highs, and at the work now being done at Hart High School.

The last time I visited Canyon was four to five years ago, and it was a tired-looking school. The exterior of the school is now stunning.

But what is happening on the inside is what makes it a true learning institution. Students and staff were beaming with pride when sharing their stories of the changes that the new construction has brought to instruction, student programs and services, as well as administrative support services.

The same feelings were shared at Saugus High. What was amazing to me is the improvement in classroom technology. For example, each classroom had a SMART board that uses video technology to teach lessons much in the same way as the old-fashioned overhead projector.

The difference and benefit is that the SMART board lessons are posted online, so students who are absent, or who need reinforcement, can later access the lesson online.

The passage of Measure SA would make such technology available to students across the district who currently do not have it. The passage of the bond would allow the William S. Hart Union High School District schools to keep pace with improvements needed to maintain the district's high performance as the No. 1 district statewide on state student achievement tests.

The district has done a lot with the money from the past bond, Measure V. The new Associated Student Body center at Canyon provides students a place to call their own where they can hold meetings, conferences, create banners and other art work needed for their projects and programs.

Such facilities are important to students who become the community citizens and leaders of the future. Both Saugus and Canyon have new food service kitchens that are larger and furnished with energy-saving equipment.

There are also the unseen projects such as the electrical, plumbing, heating and cooling. While these are not very glamorous, infrastructure projects create healthier learning environments for our students and overall save the school district maintenance and operation costs.

Hart High is beginning work on a new science lab with Measure V funds. This will bring Hart in line with Canyon, Saugus and the newer schools, but it will still have the smallest, most outdated library in the system.

The passage of Measure SA will enable Hart High to build a new library with contemporary technology. Meanwhile, it and the newer schools have auditoriums/multipurpose rooms for performing arts programs and community events, but Saugus and Canyon do not have such a facility.

The passage of Measure SA will bring performing arts centers to those schools.

The important thing to understand is that the passage of Measure SA will bring equity to schools for delivery of instructional programs so that all students can learn and achieve at the highest levels.
Measure SA would build a high school in Castaic, providing a "neighborhood high school" that the Castaic community has never had the joy of experiencing.

How terrific for the Santa Clarita Valley that Castaic will have its own facility, sports teams and performing-arts programs that will deepen the pride we have in our students' achievements.

A high school in Castaic will also alleviate capacity issues at other district high schools and help create even safer learning environments. If Measure SA fails, that school will not be built in the immediate future.

I could continue about all the projects I saw completed through Measure V such as the new library at Saugus High, newly modernized classrooms at Placerita Junior High and the new gymnasium at Arroyo Seco Junior High, but I think what needs to be stressed is that the passage of Measure SA will continue to ensure the high-quality schools that are the backbone of our community and why people live in the Santa Clarita Valley.

The overall improvements to the district brought by the passage of Measure SA will also maintain property values.

Finally, Measure SA will allow the school district to leverage funding from the state to complete all the stated projects in the bond.

Without Measure SA the district will not have access to state funds for construction and modernization. Ultimately, this is the opportunity for the community to decide the direction of our local junior and senior high schools.

We all want high-quality schools that prepare students to become responsible citizens who can compete globally.

Our community rallies around all of our schools for celebrations, or times of need, and this bond is no exception. We must preserve the excellence of public education and tradition in the Santa Clarita Valley by voting in favor of Measure SA on Nov. 4.

Santa Clarita resident Suzan Solomon serves on the Newhall School Board and is membership chairman for the SCV Council PTA. Her views reflects her own views and not necessarily that of The Signal.


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