By Diane Singer
Two bond measures on the Nov. 8 ballot will determine the Orange Unified School District’s fate in the critical years ahead.
The first is California’s Kindergarten Through Community College Public Education Facilities Bond Act.
And the second is Orange Unified’s Classroom & Facility Safety, Modernization and Renovation Measure. The bonds are tied together. Each is equally important. That’s why it’s time for OUSD voters to double down on our kids’ futures. We must vote "yes" on the bond. And then vote "yes" on the bond!
First vote "yes" on Prop. 51
To ensure that OUSD taxpayers maximize their education tax dollars, we must first vote "yes" on the Kindergarten Through Community College Public Education Facilities Bond Act, better known as Proposition 51.
Your "yes" vote on Prop. 51 could mean over $50 million in state matching funds for OUSD’s Orange, Villa Park, El Modena and Canyon High Schools.
Without your "yes" vote on Prop. 51, those $50 million in potential matching funds will go to other school districts. That means our OUSD tax dollars will be used to educate other people’s children – kids who live outside our school district. Our kids deserve their fair share of our state education dollars.
Republicans and Democrats alike are voting "yes" on Prop. 51. The California Republican Party, the California Democratic Party and the California Taxpayers Association are all endorsing Prop. 51.
Even Orange County Republican leaders like State Senator Pat Bates; State Senator Janet Nguyen; Assemblywoman Young Kim; and Assemblyman Don Wagner join their Democratic colleagues in endorsing Prop. 51.
They know that without a dedicated, secure source of matching funds from the state, critical renovation and modernization projects like the ones slated for OUSD high schools may not move forward. Ever.
And then vote "yes" on the OUSD bond down the ballot
Voting "yes" on OUSD’s local general obligation bond measure is the only way to ensure that not one of our precious education tax dollars is left behind.
This time, OUSD finally got it right. Now it’s up to us to do what’s right for our kids.
Placed on the ballot by a 7-0 vote of the OUSD trustees, the new, improved version of 2014’s Measure K is fair, reasonable and includes revisions and enhancements designed to instill the voter confidence needed to boost this bond proposal over the 55% threshold required for passage.
For example, the 2016 OUSD bond proposal cuts the tax levied in the old Measure K from $39 per $100,000 of assessed valuation to $29 per $100,000 of assessed valuation -- that’s a 25 percent savings for affected property owners!
Yet, it will still generate $288 million shared equally between Canyon, El Modena, Orange and Villa Park High Schools to pay for much-needed repairs.
The OUSD bond money shall only be used for the construction, reconstruction, rehabilitation, or replacement of school facilities. Not a single dollar shall be used for teacher and administrator salaries, or any other school operating expenses. An independent Citizens’ Oversight Committee will require annual performance and financial audits to ensure that our tax dollars are spent as intended – wisely. OUSD school board members, parents and teachers know that a safe and secure environment is the key to our children’s education. That’s why state-of-the-art security lighting, cameras, smoke detectors, fire alarms and sprinklers will be added to our high school campuses.
So now is the time for OUSD voters to step up and do our part. Your "yes" vote on Prop. 51 is the first step. And then your vote "yes" on the OUSD measure is the last step needed to ensure that our kids get their fair share of our education tax dollars.
Diane Singer is an educator and former OUSD Trustee, Area 1.