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Be honest with promotion of $159M bond

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POSTED August 29, 2014 1:42 a.m.

Editor, Manteca Bulletin,

Manteca Unified, with help from the Manteca Bulletin (“Showing their age,” Aug. 25), is promoting a $159 million school bond. Stated reason for this bond is for the repair of our older schools. This article ends with a link to Manteca Unified’s Master Facilities Plan, the school board’s list for these repairs. Please do look at the list. You will find it does not just contain repairs to the older schools but also new construction. It also lists replacing carpets in portables followed by replacing entire portables. Is this good use of our taxpayer money?

How long has the be.tech vocational academy existed compared to Manteca High School or some of our truly older elementary sites? The article lists a total is $27 million for new additions to be.tech Vocational. Manteca Unified dismantled the former adult educational programs and formed new programs under be.tech Vocational. This was done at the time MUSD said there was no money.

Calla High expenses include building a new school.

Joshua Cowell lists a new multi-purpose building as does Brock Elliott, Lincoln, and McParland. These multi-use buildings seem to have become a status symbol for all of our schools instead of a genuine need. But it does show a lack of priorities; do they fix and upgrade older schools or build new multi-use buildings? At least be honest how you promote this $159 million bond.

Manteca Unified commissioned a survey that showed the public would support a school bond if the money was spent on repairing older schools. MUSD sent am email to its employees saying not to express an opinion during the survey that would influence the public’s response. If you worked at a school site with peeling paint, dry rot, leaking roofs and windows, old heating and air conditioning units, threadbare carpets with the floor exposed, deeply racked asphalt, faulty playgrounds, and all the other repairs cited in the Masters Facilities Plan and Manteca Bulletin article and knew the refrain “there is no money to fix things,” don’t you think the employees would say yes, vote for a school bond?

Manteca Unified has a history of using money for new projects rather than for infrastructure. Perhaps this is why the schools are now in such a desperate need of repairs. The latest example is the State giving the MUSD a first installment repayment of $31 million. Did Manteca Unified use this for repairs or to fulfill its promise to its employees to make them “whole” when the employees gave up 5% of their salaries for many years? No, they said it was one-time funds and put $30 million toward the new Going Digital project. We are supposed to ignore the fact that this project will need continued annual funds too.

Manteca Unified is long on cute sound bites but short on keeping its promises. But in this $159 million case, there aren’t any promises or guarantees that this money will be spent on older schools that need repairs. Indeed, if they use their facilities plan it is clear that some of the money will be used on new projects. MUSD’s past practices have contributed to the poor condition our schools are in. Now they want us to bail them out again. Remember Measure M? Their own Master Facilities Plan and the Manteca Bulletin article clearly states that they want new projects and not just repairs to older schools. Maybe it is time to start asking more questions and get a guarantee that the money will be spent of older schools’ repairs before deciding to vote on this $159 million school bond.

Kathleen S. Griffin

Manteca

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