By Daniel Langhorne
Canyon High School hosted a town hall meeting, April 21, where representatives made their case for why voters in the Orange Unified School District should pass a bond to improve or replace deteriorating school buildings.
Superintendent Michael Christensen said there is an urgent need to update the classrooms used for science, technology and math to better prepare students for college and careers. The town hall’s purpose was to listen to the community’s concerns about the school’s condition, but instead of a question and answer period, comment cards were collected from the audience.
Those in attendance were invited to tour several classrooms to view the conditions students and teachers work in.
“You would not imagine that these would be the schools for upscale neighborhoods,” said Anjanette Valenta of Orange, who is the parent of a fourth grader.
Signs of age
She supports the bond, and would like to see Canyon High upgraded to look comparable to surrounding schools, like Yorba Linda High or Tustin. To her, the classrooms looked identical to those she studied in as a high school student. Principal Craig Abercrombie said that although Canyon’s students are achieving at a “major league level,” with many going to the top colleges in the country, the facilities available to them are “little league.”
Alisa Mittelstadt shared Valenta’s surprise at the state of Canyon’s facilities. “When it’s in this condition, you’re going to lose teachers,” she said. She hopes her kindergartener and fourth grader will be able to enjoy the benefits of the bond by the time they at-tend high school.Among the classrooms available to view was the environmental science classroom of Gabor Takacs, the chair of the school’s science department, which hosts a few small lab stations with missing drawers.
No room to grow
A computer lab used for classes in robotics, computer science and accounting classes was packed with rows of desktop computers. “This space doesn’t work well for the kind of collaborative environment teachers want for their students,” Abercrombie said.
Steve Hartfelder of Anaheim Hills said that the district’s town hall presentation for the bond was better than its argument for the failed school bond proposition in 2014. However, he still sees that the majority of board members lack the trust of the community. But he admits that, selfishly, he wants the bond to pass so his kids can go to a modern high school.
“It’s a matter of putting (the bond) together in such a way that people know the money is being spent in a responsible way,” he advised.
Similar town hall meetings were held at El Modena, Orange and Villa Park High Schools.