By Leslie DeRose and Kim DeSerpa
The classrooms and facilities of the Pajaro Valley Unified School District have served our students for many decades. But like a home or a road, there comes a time when repairs and modernization are needed. That’s where we are with our aging school facilities.
Many of the schools in the district were built more than 50 years ago. Some schools have been updated over the years to varying degrees, but all are in need of modernization. Some of our schools have 21st Century instructional technology, but many others go without due to differences in federal and state funding received by our district.
We know what the needs are and the needs are great. The Pajaro Valley Unified School District’s board of trustees recently approved by a unanimous vote. Recognition of needed repairs included fixing leaking roofs and upgrading and repairing classrooms to meet safety codes. We also need the modern instructional technology essential to a strong academic foundation so we can prepare students for high school, college and a competitive job market.
A local bond measure would allow us to complete many of these needed repair projects to provide safe, well-maintained classrooms for all students and bring all schools up-to-date with modern educational technology as well as facilities needed for 21st Century vocational and job training programs.
Many of these repairs would put money back into our general fund because they would save the district money on utilities with greater energy efficiency. This would provide a cushion of protection from state budget cuts by saving us as much as $1 million a year.
It’s no secret that our schools have been devastated by the economy and state budget cuts. We’re not expecting the state to backfill our budget any time soon and that’s why we need a local solution to protect our schools and to reduce dependence on the state. is the best way to accomplish this.
In addition, a bond measure would help our schools qualify for millions of dollars in state matching funds that might otherwise go to other communities.
We also know that great schools make our neighborhoods more desirable and protect our property values, which is now more important than ever. School improvements and cost savings will also help attract and retain quality teachers.
This money cannot be taken away by the state. It is locally generated and locally controlled. Any funding measure would require a citizens’ oversight committee and reports to the community to ensure funds are spent as designed. And bond funds cannot be used to increase salaries, benefits or pensions for staff or administrators.
We recently polled residents to gauge their support for improving and enhancing facilities with a possible bond measure. We were grateful to find that the survey revealed a solid base of voter support for a bond in either the June or November 2012 elections. It’s time to bring our school facilities into the 21st Century so we can continue to give our students a 21st Century education.
Leslie DeRose is president of the PVUSD Board of Trustees representing portions of Watsonville. Kim DeSerpa is a member of the board representing portions of Aptos and Corralitos.