The Irvine Unified School District is traditionally one of Orange County’s and California’s best performing school districts despite the fact it’s also one of the lowest funded school districts in the state.
Measure E, a bond for much needed repairs in many of the city’s older elementary/middle/high schools, could raise as much as $250-$319 million dollars towards things like fixing old plumbing systems, electrical systems, retrofitting restrooms, replacing heating/air conditioning systems, and fixing school roofs. This week, Irvine voters will be getting phone calls from live human beings to explain Measure E; it’s your chance to ask any question you wish. You can start by going to this link to learn more.
The bond will cost Irvine homeowners and other property owners a few hundreds bucks on average over the next 30 years; if you’re a renter in the city (and half of Irvine’s residents live in apartments), its unclear how the landlord will collect this fee. Initially, it looked like only homeowners were going to be paying — not businesses and not renters — but that’s changed.
My biggest questions were answered after sitting down to review the plan with experts close to it; the elementary school and high school in my neighborhood are barely 15 years old, so I was surprised to see them on the list. Each school, regardless of how old or new it is, has some work that needs to be done. At CanyonView, where my kids attended for the first 13 years of its existence, there’s a need for covered storage of musical instruments. That’s covered by the bond. At Northwood High, there’s a need for a practice basketball gym (yes, it should have been built when the school was opened in 1999, but it wasn’t); and Northwood needs its track updated from plan old dirt to a modern quarter mile track. Those are just some examples.
Other schools are in much worse shape.
Science labs where there’s no running water. HVAC systems so old there aren’t replacement parts. Network bandwidth stretched so think video playback is hung up while trying to teach a lesson. You get the idea.
Great schools mean great neighborhoods, a strong local economy and homes that maintain their value and increase equity. The excellence of our schools is just one reason why Irvine is the heart of Orange County’s economy and the bond represents an investment in our schools that we need to make. The concept of spending money to make money means our kids are better equipped for the jobs of tomorrow. Today, IUSD gets less money per pupil than schools in Santa Ana or Anaheim.
While IUSD is blessed with the work of the Irvine Public Schools Foundation and matching funds provided by the City of Irvine that pay for a lot of things schools need, the fact that locally we need this bond. Progressive candidates for office should endorse this bond.
But what the bond highlights is a long standing failure on the part of Irvine’s Republican-elected state officials from Don Wagner to Matt Harper to John Moorlach. Pro-education Irvine residents have gone to these officials again and again to get our fair share of state funding only to be denied. Residents are told “you’re going to have to do this yourself.” Oh, a parcel tax? Nope, these elected officials will no nothing to make it easier to pass a fair parcel tax.
But oddly enough, local school board members or members of IUSD’s leadership remain largely silent on any criticism of these elected officials. Why? Clearly, the Three Stooges of our State-Electeds won’t do their jobs when it comes to funding needed repairs because they are far more beholden to Republican Party interests and Conservative Principles than those of voters or students or teachers for that matter. Think about that when casting your vote for these do-nothings in June. Or better still, ask them why they won’t do their jobs when they are campaigning.
So we’re endorsing Measure E; we’ll do so even more enthusiastically when Irvine’s education leaders start complaining about the lack of support from those we send to Sacramento to protect for and advocate for our interests.