Letters: Schools need help, but tax isn’t the answer
by Rick Yamada, Boulder Creek
Feb 11, 2010 | 1287 views | 13 13 comments | 16 16 recommendations | email to a friend | print
EDITOR,

I just read the commentary by Dene Bustichi (“Yes, Dr. Silver, we do care about our schools,” Feb. 5), and I agree with most of his comments. I don’t have children, but I am a strong believer in public schools, which are the core of this diverse nation’s unity.

Unlike private or charter schools, which tend to have select student enrollment and curriculum, public schools are for everyone. This requires teachers with abilities to be able to teach to a wide range of student abilities. We will not find or retain good teachers if we don’t support these important members of our community.

Mr. Bustichi is correct in his comment, “New classrooms do not teach children, teachers do.” This made me reflect on my high school, a converted warehouse, and the irony — students were dropped off on the loading dock! The rooms and furnishings were spartan, but this had no effect on students or the teaching. Portable classrooms would have been a luxury. I think I got a good education — I made it to college. We are too concerned with structures, and not placing more emphasis on teachers. Don’t get me wrong, I want safe and adequate facilities, but teacher salaries should be our priority right now.

However, I take issue with the constant attempt to impose more taxes on our property. Mr. Bustichi has conveniently forgotten the reason for Proposition 13. Our property tax is loaded with too many added taxes, and another “small” tax is unacceptable; even if it is “targeted,” it all adds up! Most won’t understand this, but adding 2 percent to our income tax would probably bring in enough revenue (included with better management and efficiency by government), because we are paying more through increased sales tax, various public service fees and the ever-increasing parcel taxes.

It is depressing to see the overall state our country is in, but we have only ourselves to blame. We need to take responsibility and clean up our mess — do we have the fortitude to do so?

Comments
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Different Thought
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March 01, 2010
Why not have the people who use these services the most pay extra when there is a short fall.
who's building?
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February 14, 2010
SV sardine -- there hasn't been a new house built in SV for two years, and only the 15 or so across the highway on the horizon for the next two. This lack of building has actually caused a problem because those housing fees helped pay the rent for the portables; those funds have all dried up so now our regular (operations) money is used to pay the lease. On top of that, more kids means more dollars -- our school is funded by ADA (average daily attendance). The entire district has been suffering from declining enrollment for probably five years or so (as have many other districts throughout the state).

Even with these declines, our elementary schools are overcrowded. Portables have gotten us by for a long time. The plan (under measure B in 2002 and measure Q in 2008) was to get rid of them and build permanent classrooms. But both efforts failed. So here they remain.

Yeah, the traffic circulation at all the schools is bad. Maybe better staggering the start / stop times would help.
SV sardine
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February 14, 2010
"However, in the middle of an economic crisis, does it make more sense to keep classes small and retain quality teachers so the young students of SV have a chance to succeed? Or is it more of a priority to build more buildings?"

I would say the teachers are more important than the buildings. My child doesn't even mind the old building and thinks it has character. I also don't mind if it's old as long as it's safe. What I'm wondering about is the overcrowding and increasing numbers in the future. The playground is covered up with "shoebox" portables. Less play space for more kids. They keep building more and more housing. Of course this means more kids. where will they all fit? How long will the drop off/pickup lines extend out into the streets? Enough is enough. STOP BUILDING!

MS in BD
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February 13, 2010
Rick,

You said, "Mr. Bustichi has conveniently forgotten the reason for Proposition 13".

I believe the purpose of Prop 13 was to keep property taxes from skyrocketing with the skyrocketing property values. There were too many people losing their homes because the property taxes had increased further than anyone could have imagined. The purpose of Prop 13 was never to prevent you from ever having your property taxes increased or special assessments levied.
Choices
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February 13, 2010
SV4kids sake -- in the middle of this economic crisis, it just doesn't seem like we can keep classes small, or retain the number of teachers we'd like. Can't spend what you don't have (unless your the feds, of course). A parcel tax of the size SV is willing to support probably isn't going to reverse the situation much, but it should help us keep our heads above water.

Nobody is talking about building "more" buildings; just replacing what we've got. These "new" classrooms, if we build them, probably won't be much (if any) bigger than what we have. Sizes are pretty standard. But they'll be far more energy efficient, better lit, better acoustics, better display boards and technology, better seating and storage, and overall make for a much better teaching experience. Same teacher, same kids, just a better environment. It's a good thing.

Is it a need or a want? I guess that's the question. Everyone agrees that a some point it becomes a need, and everyone (I think) agrees that that time can't be too far off!

I'm wondering if we can't do a bit of both. I haven't seen the numbers yet, but maybe a lesser bond (just the MS?) and a modest parcel tax (we all define modest differently, of course) could make sense. A bit for now, a bit for the future, right?
know your facts
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February 13, 2010
I'm still waiting for Tom Watts. Perhaps he's getting his research together. Perhaps he's compiling his data in preparation for his response. Or, perhaps, he really has no foundation for his criticism. He's a Vick M. supporter who feels that it's never an issue of needing more dollars, it's just being mis-spent. Nothing to back it, no foundation, no real basis for the arguement, just sad and naive.
SV4kidssake
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February 13, 2010
"Need Middle School" - No one would debate the fact that our Middle School does need help.

However, in the middle of an economic crisis, does it make more sense to keep classes small and retain quality teachers so the young students of SV have a chance to succeed? Or is it more of a priority to build more buildings?

I think our excellent SV teachers will still give our kids a quality education in a small, outdated room. But large, new rooms stuffed full of 29 kids in Kindergarten and beyond is a recipe for disaster!
SVCARES
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February 13, 2010
Correct MS. Just an example of what other districts are doing.
Michael S
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February 12, 2010
Just to be clear, I'm assuming the Cabrillo USD that SV CARES is referring to is the district in Half Moon Bay, slightly larger than ours. It is NOT Cabrillo College, so this $150 / parcel tax would have no impact on SV.

Just fyi, it appears that a similar amount ($150/parcel) here in SVUSD would raise just short of $1M.

svcares
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February 12, 2010
Board members for the Cabrillo Unified School District have approved a five-year, $150-per-parcel tax measure for the June ballot, which would provide approximately $1.5 million for the district.

Know Your Facts
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February 12, 2010
How much do these Fat Cats make Tom? 200K? 300K? We are a Million dollars short and we have one top admin position. Let's say she makes 200,000 (which is probably double her actual pay - but for arguements sake) and she cuts her pay in half, that now leaves us with a 900,000 shortfall! Doesn't quite do the job does it Tom. Where else should we cut. Do we really need three custodians for all four schools? I mean, why can't the teachers vacumn their own floors and the kids can empty the trash.
Tom Watts
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February 12, 2010
Scotts Valley school district has plenty of money. They've just allocated it in all the wrong places. Thin out the top-heavy bureaucracy, replace the problematic leadership, put the focus on the kids.
Need Middle School
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February 12, 2010
We need a new Middle school, how do you propose we pay for it? The population keeps growing. That school was made a long time ago when the population was a lot smaller. And with all the new housing coming in the Town Center and other areas where will all these new kids go to school? If not a property tax then how about a sales tax that everyone can pay? Or just build more shopping centers I guess. That's where money comes from right? Or stop building so many houses, but the state dictates that.



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