Letters to the Editor
From the San Clemente Times
San Clemente Youth Need Measure H
Please vote yes on Measure H and Prop 13; both are vital to the capital improvements that our local schools drastically need to ensure our children continue to receive high quality education.
Please note that if Prop 13 passes (and it is predicted to pass) without Measure H, we will be paying for state bonds that we do not benefit from—these funds are only available in conjunction with the passing of a local bond measure.
Contrary to other opinions published in the San Clemente Times, Capistrano Unified School District has a detailed plan for use of Measure H and includes provisions for public oversight and independent audit procedures.
The mechanism that determines state funding allocations to school districts leaves CUSD in the lowest ranks of dollars per pupil, and these monies are only for operating and maintaining schools.
Capital improvements to schools in the state of California are only funded through the passing of state and local bond measures. No other funding exists to complete all necessary vital improvements.
Without Measure H, our schools will continue to deteriorate. A large portion of Measure H funds are designated for San Clemente High School, with the remainder going to elementary and middle schools in San Clemente and Capo Beach.
San Clemente High School and all of our San Clemente elementary and middle schools have fantastic teachers, staff, administration, and students. However, the world class education they receive takes place on a 55-year old campus that no longer meets the technological or environmental needs of our youth and education professionals.
If you would like to see the plans for updating the campus to 21st-century standards, visit the Capistrano Unified School District website. Or take advantage of upcoming school facility walks led by principal Chris Carter (contact SCHS for more details).
As a parent of three San Clemente High School alums, I look forward to a real auditorium for our talented musicians and theater performers, a pool that is up to the level of our fine aquatic athletes, classrooms adequately wired for today’s technology, and adequate administrative office space for the administration and support staff.
Let’s give our children the learning environment and support they deserve and need.
— Susan Parmalee
Yes on Measure H
I am 87 years old, a lifelong California resident with 20 years here in San Clemente. My wife and I will vote yes on Measure H even though our children are grown adults and live elsewhere.
I believe that education is the most important function of our government following defense. A wise man said, “If you think education is expensive, try ignorance.”
My wife and I as well as our children have benefited enormously from our education in California, including graduation from the state college and university system. We all live very happy, productive lives.
The Greatest Generation, a book by Tom Brokaw, described how returning military after Work War II, went to college free on the GI Bill of Rights and built this nation into the economic powerhouse it is today. There may be no better way to see the value of a free education.
San Clemente is the most wonderful place to live. I urge everyone to vote yes on Measure H.
— Louis Shepard
Our Town, Our Schools: Learning from the Past
San Clemente Times Guest Opinion
By Patricia Holloway, member of the Capistrano Unified School District Board, representing Trustee Area 3 (San Clemente)
When I was elected to the school board in 2016, I saw firsthand from my years as a parent volunteer and substitute teacher that our students were receiving an outstanding education in San Clemente schools. What I didn’t understand was why our children were being taught in such inferior facilities, with leaky roofs, no air conditioning, inadequate bathrooms, and jerry-rigged technology.
Our schools in San Clemente are old—really old. Las Palmas Elementary, where my daughter attended, was built by Ole Hanson more than 90 years ago. Concordia Elementary is 65, Shorecliffs Middle School is 43, and our beloved San Clemente High School, built in the 1960s, is a weary 55 years old. Why then, when we live in affluent South Orange County with high property values and a well-educated population, are so many of our schools dilapidated and run down? And why is it that less affluent communities in Orange County and California have modern school campuses with the latest technology?
The short answer: Communities with modern facilities have passed school bonds.
In California, all school districts have two important, but separate pots of funding:
- Classroom Instruction – School districts receive state funding for classroom instruction (i.e., teachers, books, computers) based on the number and demographics of students enrolled. The Capistrano Unified School District receives $8,900 per student, the very low end of funding, because we have fewer low-income students and fewer children learning English.
- Facilities Improvements – School districts get no state funding to modernize existing older schools unless two things happen:
- Voters in the district pass a local school bond, and
- Voters in the state pass a statewide school bond.
The reality is that once our school district passes a localized bond measure, we’ll become eligible for state matching funds to help upgrade older schools. But we must make that local investment first.
In the past decade, 84% of California school districts have passed bonds. Closer to home, Tustin, Orange, Irvine and San Diego Unified School Districts have successfully passed bonds. Construction is underway in these communities, benefiting not only their schools but their local economies.
It’s a fact that out of 29 school districts in Orange County, CUSD has the lowest tax bond levy at under $8 per $100,000 of assessed property value, compared to $83/$100,000 at the high end, and an average assessment of $38/$100,000.
To remain competitive and to show students that we care about their physical environment, we must approve a school bond. To support our chance for approval, Capistrano Unified is learning from the past.
This includes following advice of the independent Facilities and Finance Committee, which includes members who opposed Measure M, the unsuccessful 2016 school bond. The Facilities Committee recommended these key improvements, which our school board recently adopted:
- Instead of a districtwide bond, propose a small regional bond measure only for San Clemente and Capistrano Beach. This means that funds raised here will be used to fix our neighborhood schools, not schools in Mission Viejo or San Juan Capistrano.
- Instead of a general list of improvements, conduct an engineering survey of every school to document and prioritize specific needs.
- Exclude Talega’s Mello-Roos District because residents there are still paying off school district bonds used to build Vista Del Mar, San Clemente’s newest elementary and middle schools.
- Appoint a local Citizen’s Oversight Committee to scrutinize all expenditures if the bond passes.
With these changes, it’s my sincere hope that San Clemente and Capo Beach residents will support a bond in March 2020. A positive vote is the only way to modernize San Clemente High and our neighborhood schools.
- San Clemente Chamber of Commerce
- SCHS PTSA
- Joe Anderson
- Monica & Scott Giacobello
- Rick Delanty
- Lynn Delanty
- Don Brown
- Ken Nielson
- Jennifer Aquino
- Paul Huffman
- Libby Hawkes
- Mark McGuire
- Maria Koenigshofer
- Christine Smith
- Beverly Grant
- Sue Young
- Elly Harris
- Suzanne McKay
- Dan Young
- Kristin Annaloro
- Sandie Iverson
- Wendy Yoder
- Kenneth Koenigshofer
- Mike & Donna Dollar
- Anissa Flesher
- Matt Flesher
- Mary Mulligan Crapo
- Rita Moser
- Ariana Hawbecker
- Linda Verraster
- Veronica Hoggatt
- Genavieve Koenigshofer
- Anne Prestridge
- Marilyn Miller
- Paul Miller
- Amy Hanacek
- Lisa Kerr
- Judy Jones
- Sue Hill
- Barbara Helton
- Annette LaMorte
- Karen Oliver
- Jim Holloway
- Toni Nelson
- Heather Arnwine
- Steve Litchfield
- Mitch Kahn
- Brian Rice, D.D.S.
- Steve Hops
- Chris Carter
- Jim and Kathleen Sigafoos
- Ed Molina
- David Hatoff, M.D.
- Louis and Nancy Shepard
- Trudy Podobus
- Marv Sherrill
More Letters to the Editor
from the San Clemente Times
The bond money for school improvements is an investment in our community, our children's future, and our property values depend on it. Why do professionals buy into communities, willing to pay top dollar for homes? They seek good schools for their children. Bond money can only be used for school facilities improvements.
This is a mandate from the state. It can not be used for salaries or any other uses, only for facilities improvements. These improvements are spelled out in advance, so the community knows what it will be used for.
In order to qualify for matching funds from the state of California, school districts must pony up their 50%. In other words, we put our money where our mouths are. If we do not move forward and pass the bond, other school districts that have voted "yes" get the funds.
Why would we want the opportunity for matching funds to pass us by?
As a past business services administrator for Long Beach Unified School District, now retired, who administered its school bond program for many years, I say vote "yes" and allow our children to compete for the best colleges possible. Strong school districts are the foundation of a community.
— George Dutra
As a resident of San Clemente for more than 55 years, it continues to be my privilege to help maintain the highest quality of education for our youth by voting for school bonds.
My sons received an excellent education at San Clemente High School many years ago, and it behooves us to maintain the buildings that have aged. No one would think that if he buys a house, that will be the end of any cost for repairing or upgrading. Conversely, every building needs its constant repair to keep it safe and productive.
We are fortunate in San Clemente to have an outstanding public school system, which tries to meet the educational needs of each student. It is our duty, as citizens, to help the school district do this by passing the upcoming school bond.
—Maureen E. Redfield
One of the most critical measurements of a society is how the community educates its young. Just how important are our local schools? While we do have a wonderful world class team of educators and administrators, many of our facilities are just old.
Recently, I listened to one of our bright, well-spoken high school students describe having to attend class in trailers that had rats, falling ceiling tiles, and broken air conditioning issues. My son played for the high school water polo team, their home pool was shallow in one end forcing them to avoid putting their feet on the bottom.
The Las Palmas Elementary School was built in 1927, and San Clemente High School is 55 years old. Our schools need our attention now.
This coming March, we will have an opportunity to approve a local bond issue to make our schools much more functional and comfortable. While space does not allow me to list all the improvements at our various facilities, the high school will be outfitted with a new library, cafeteria, kitchen, student services center, performing arts theater, and competitive pool.
I see this as a chance to show our community pride and do the right thing by supporting our students and teachers.—Steve Hops
I’m sure everyone is concerned about a potential increase in property taxes because of ballot Measure H. But there is a difference between being critical, skeptical or cynical, and being totally uninformed.
For facts about the Measure H bond, please visit the Capistrano Unified School District’s website, attend an informational meeting, or talk with your local CUSD Board of Trustee member, and get the real data from a credible source.
Property owners are being asked to spend $34 for every $100,000 in assessed home value. Many San Clemente residents have low assessed values because they’ve owned their homes for many years.
If your property’s assessed value is $500,000, you will pay an extra $170 per year on our schools. If your assessed value is $1,000,000, you will pay $340 per year. That’s less than a dollar a day to invest in San Clemente’s future.
Our aging schools are the heart of our community. Our teachers, students, and staff deserve better. San Clemente deserves better. Measure H is the best chance we have to make our schools great again.