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Readers comments 10-14-16

Setting the record straight

 [Editor’s note: The following letter refers to public comment by Ellen Taylor at the Tuesday, September 27 city council meeting. The council report was published Friday, September 30. —KD]

Dear Editor:

I’m writing to set the record straight in response to a comment in the city news section last week alleging that the new Pomona College Museum of Art will actually be an administrative building.

The proposed museum will indeed be a museum. More details are available at pomona.edu/new-pcma.

Marylou Ferry

Vice President and

Chief Communications Officer

Pomona College

 

Sad and disappointed

Dear Editor:

The prominent placement of the photo of Republican Assembly candidate Casey Higgins on the cover of your October 7 issue (strategically placed between the words “Leaders Tomorrow” for maximum subliminal effect) smacks of bias and favoritism.

If you want to endorse him, then you should at least have the courage to do it outright. It also begs the question, “How long has the COURIER been using tactics from the Fox News playbook?” I had thought the COURIER was above this sort of political chicanery.   

Theodore Perry

Claremont

 

Measure G

Dear Editor:

We are Claremont homeowners and retired educators whose children benefited from a first-class education in our schools. One of us is a Claremont High School graduate; one of us now has grandchildren enrolled here.

During our respective careers, we served in neighboring school districts where successful bond measures led to significant upgrades to facilities, resulting in improved learning environments and in the safety, pride and morale of students and teachers. We believe strongly that the students and staff here in Claremont deserve the same results.

As members of a volunteer organization that provides music education to third graders in each of our elementary schools, we have seen first-hand how years of inadequate funding have taken a toll on facilities.

We are concerned about the school district’s ability moving forward to sustain quality educational programs if significant infrastructure improvements are not made. 

In this city, we have prided ourselves on the quality of our schools. As homeowners, we have seen tangible increases in home prices in large part driven by the excellence of our teachers and educational programs.

People move to this city so that their children can attend our schools, yet we have infrastructure needs that must be funded if quality is to be maintained.  Just as we regularly must make improvements to our own homes, so must we take responsibility now as a community to ensure that Claremont USD has sufficient funds to properly maintain and improve its schools.

We urge a “yes”vote on Measure G.

Lynn Creasey Miller

Cindy Baird Walkenbach

Claremont

 

Yes on G, no on right-sizing

Dear Editor:

Jay Pocock’s “It’s time to right-size our school district” asserts that inter-district transfer students are the root of CUSD’s current dilapidated infrastructure and declining test scores while, at the same time, suggesting that the district is “segregated and proud of it.”

In addition, Mr. Pocock characterizes the school board as “complacent,” then suggests that eliminating IDTs and trailers is “a plan we could all get behind.” Mr. Pocock’s hypocrisy and myopic vision of the state of CUSD is as much a contributing factor to education’s inability to keep up with population increase, facilities in disrepair, need for technology and the need to pay teachers adequately.

Perhaps Mr. Pocock has taken a page from Donald Trump’s “I’m going to build a wall” philosophy of problem-solving.

Like Mr. Pocock, I am a proud alumnus of CHS, class of 1986. I, too, have children in the district—one is a fifth grader, the other is in eighth grade at El Roble. Both have thrived in this wonderful school district. Each is highly involved on her respective school campus. My daughters, however, are interdistrict transfer students. I chose CUSD as an alternative to Bonita USD because of its high standards, tradition of excellence in the education and well-being of children, and the rich diversity of the community and school district—much of which comes from interdistrict transfer students.

As both a parent and an educator, I am appalled at the insinuation that IDT students are the reason for CUSD’s financial crisis, and that because CUSD has a large number of transfer students these students are somehow draining dollars from the CUSD vaults.

To announce that CUSD is somehow separative and then follow with a call to ban interdistrict transfers is the type of negligent rhetoric that congress has used in halting much of the progress needed in the federal government. Mr. Pocock should rethink his position.

Claremont, like many middle class suburban communities, receives a smaller portion of state funding because of its high property values. Limits on the funds received from the state requires the district and community to develop creative means of funding Claremont schools. It is an unfortunate reality of the time; moreover, it is a necessity, particularly in a district with so many aging facilities. As a result, the need for community members to take on more responsibility to support their schools, whether financially or otherwise, is paramount. The RISE coalition should be applauded for their proactive movement to provide CUSD with the funding they so desperately need through Measure G.

Measure G and the RISE campaign will create immediate funding for Claremont schools and will be a critical resource for the much-needed repairs and updates to school facilities.

We need to do our part to help Claremont schools, and not pass the blame on to interdistrict transfer students, board members and administrators.

Scott Higuera

La Verne

 

Good facilities, healthy schools

Dear Editor:

We urge all Claremonters to support Measure G on November 8 for three urgent reasons:

First, our schools are over 50 years old and in serious need of repairs, replacements and renovations. Unless we act now, while interest rates are low, the deterioration will grow as well as the costs.

Second, since 2000, when voters passed a proposition to lower the voter-approval level to 55 percent for local school bonds, the state has abdicated its responsibility to provide adequate facilities for public schools. It expects local districts to pass bonds instead. Since 2001, more than 700 districts have passed such bond measures. Claremont has passed two in the last 40 years. It’s time to catch up on our growing backlog.

Third, we Claremonters have always been proud of our schools and have a long tradition of supporting them and participating in the decision-making process.

This year, a citizens’ committee identified more than $111 million in facilities needs. From these needs, the district developed a list of the most critical projects, to be funded at the comparatively modest cost of $58 million. These include only the basics—roofing, flooring, portable classrooms, heating and electrical systems. An independent citizens oversight committee will ensure that funds are properly spent.

Some residents have objected that since 24 percent of students in CUSD are inter-district transfers, Claremont residents should not have to pay for their facilities needs. Although the figure is accurate, the argument is a red herring. Through state funds for average daily attendance, these students bring in more than $14 million a year to the district while the cost of educating them is about 70 percent of that amount. So in strictly financial terms, the district profits from their presence.

Again, we urge your support for Measure G. Good facilities are essential for healthy schools; healthy schools are essential for a thriving community.

Marilee Scaff

CUSD board member

1954-1960 and 1982-1984

Lissa Petersen

CUSD board member

1985-1995

 

 

District, board urge yes on G

Dear Editor:

We appreciate the opportunity to address ideas posed by Jay Pocock in his Viewpoint to the COURIER on October 7. Our goal is to ensure that the entire community is aware of the benefits our Inter-District Transfer students and families bring to the school district.   

Claremont Unified School District (CUSD) currently accepts Inter-district transfer (IDT) students, which equate to approximately 24 percent of the entire student enrollment. IDT students are placed throughout the district at all grade levels in elementary, middle and high schools, and only after Claremont families have been given their choice for an elementary school.

Since IDT students are admitted based on satisfactory behavior and attendance, as well as a strong grade point average, the profile of an IDT student is very similar to a resident student when examining academic performance, behavior outcomes and attendance rates.

CUSD continues to benefit in many ways from the practice of accepting IDTs. By placing IDT students at schools with available enrollment capacity, the district maximizes classroom ratios and provides stability for students, families and staff.

Without IDT students, the district would need to either dramatically limit or completely eliminate the option currently enjoyed by Claremont families of selecting their elementary school of choice (Intra-district transfers). This would create additional combination classrooms at the elementary level, reduce sections of core class offerings at the secondary level and dramatically reduce electives. 

The district’s need for facility improvements exists regardless of the acceptance of IDTs. While families of IDT students would not pay for these improvements through taxes, they currently pay for improvements in their district of residence.

IDT students generate $14 million to our district’s general fund on an annual basis. In addition, IDT families donate to their school’s Parent Faculty Association, various booster groups and other educational partners such as the Claremont Educational Foundation.

By maximizing district enrollment through the acceptance of IDT students, the district strengthens its fiscal and operational condition as well as the quality and quantity of the academic and elective course offerings.

Ultimately, the district is able to maximize resources and efficiencies, as well as offer a richer, comprehensive educational experience for all students by continuing the practice of accepting IDT students based on available enrollment capacity in our schools.

We appreciate the public’s questions, interest and support of Claremont Unified School District. Please feel free to contact the superintendent’s office at jelsasser@cusd.claremont.edu with any further questions or concerns.

Nancy Treser Osgood     David Nemer

Steven Llanusa              Beth Bingham

Hilary LaConte

CUSD Board of Education

 

Jim Elsasser

CUSD Superintendent

 

Bad information

Dear Editor:

Last week we received a glossy four-color mailing from the school district touting the supposed benefits of Measure G. It is wrong on several levels.

First, it is clearly a use of taxpayer money to campaign for Measure G. Though it avoids the words “Vote for Measure G,” that’s the obvious message. It even includes a cartoon graphic of a person marking a ballot in case the point is missed. The style, communications channel, pattern and timing are out of the ordinary for the school district, indicating that it is an illegal campaign piece.

Second, there is a blatant mistake that makes one question the competency of the school district to prepare something as simple as this flyer, much less manage the complex expenditure of $58 million in construction.

In the flyer’s blurb on cost, the district says that the maximum tax rate (presumably annually) will be $48 per $100 assessed valuation. This would lead to the rather stunning amount of $156,000 for the median $325,000 assessed valuation Claremont home.

Neither the district flyer nor the rather opaque tax rate statement accompanying the ballot materials illuminate what the total pricetag to the homeowner would likely be. Rather, attempting to reassure taxpayers that the rate is not applied to their home’s market value, the district misstates even the one number they give by a factor of a thousand.

After the district’s misinformation is sorted out, the cost of this measure to the median homeowner will be thousands and thousands of dollars over the life of the bonds. That is too much to maintain a school infrastructure vastly over-size for the ever-declining number of Claremont students (approximately one-quarter of the students in our schools are from outside the district, up from one-sixth only six years ago).

We are being asked to fund school capital projects for the benefit of neighboring communities. The flyer fails as an informational piece but that’s not the district’s goal; it is to campaign for Measure G.

Ludd A. Trozpek

Claremont

 

Prop 57 and 63

Dear Editor:

The November 8 election will be here before we know it. There are 17 state propositions on that ballot. The League of Women Voters has taken positions on those topics which we have studied.

This letter will cover the propositions that deal with the general topic of safety.

Public Safety and Rehabilitation Act—This measure restores the authority of judges, not prosecutors, to decide if juveniles as young as 14 should be tried in adult court, a right judges had until 2000. The prosecution may file a motion, but the court decides. Prop 57 will also reduce the state prison population and costs by allowing earlier parole of nonviolent felons, with sentence credits for good behavior and rehabilitation or education. This measure could save tens of millions of dollars. Vote yes on 57.

Safety For All Act—The facts are sobering. From 2002 to 2013, 38,576 Californians died from gun violence, including 2,258 children. In the US, more than 300 Americans are shot each day, more than 80 of them fatally. Prop 63 helps counter those statistics by strengthening background check systems and ensuring that California law enforcement shares data about dangerous people with the FBI.

It ensures that dangerous criminals and domestic abusers sell or transfer their firearms after they’re convicted. This measure requires businesses that sell ammunition to report lost or stolen ammunition, requires people to notify law enforcement if their guns are lost or stolen, and ensures that people convicted of gun theft are ineligible to own guns. Vote yes on 63.

Ellen Taylor

VP for Advocacy

LWV of the Claremont Area

 

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