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Readers comments 10-28-16

CUSD pools on last leg

Dear Editor:

I’m writing to express my support of Measure G. I am the parent of two students currently enrolled in CUSD. One is at El Roble and the other at CHS. Both of my kids are swimmers, and the deterioration of the pools at both school sites is a concern for us.

I am not sure if the public is aware that the pool at CHS, which is 36 years old, is in jeopardy of closing. The average life of a pool is 25 to 35 years. The CHS pool has cracked and deteriorating coping, the deck is peeling and there is exposed concrete where plaster is no longer in existence. The heaters and pumps break down approximately every six months. Because of the heaters’ age, it can take weeks to receive the parts. The pool at El Roble has been closed for quite some time.

Recently, the LA County Public Health Inspector, for a variety of violations as indicated above, temporarily closed the CHS pool. It is my understanding that they have agreed to let us reopen the pool for water polo and swim teams after completing some patching of the coping. Currently, recreational swimming, PE classes and community use of the pool is not allowed until major repairs are made.

If Proposition G does not pass, it is almost certain that the CHS pool will be closed for good. With the loss of both CUSD pools and no community pool in the city of Claremont, the CHS water polo and swim teams will need to look elsewhere for practice facilities, league home games and meets. 

It’s a shame when we have water polo teams and swimmers that continually perform well within the Palomares League and CIF. They do so with pools that are in total disarray.    

Niki Furstman

CHS Swim team booster secretary

 

The cost of Measure G

Dear Editor:

Ninety-percent of the funding to support the yes on G bond initiative comes from Measure CL, which was from special interest groups including investment bankers (Piper Jaffray), bond consultants, construction and architectural companies.

The reason such businesses supported CL and bonds like Measure G is because they all stand to benefit financially from the passage of bonds, not necessarily because it’s the right thing to do for Claremont families.

Measure G is expensive and its true cost, as stated in the Tax Rate Statement (Voter’s Guide) according to Dr. Jim Elsasser, CUSD superintendent, is $105 million, not $58 million.

Please consider such issues when voting on Measure G.

Donna Lowe

Claremont

 

We need Prop 59

Dear Editor:

I admire Ellen Taylor, but I must take issue with her (and the League of Women Voters) recommendation on Proposition 59. That proposition instructs California officials to pursue the overturning of the Citizens United Supreme Court decision by means of a constitutional amendment. 

That decision, involving as it does the obnoxious principle that corporations are people and the anti-democratic idea that money is speech—principles which lead to the conclusion that limiting the amount of money a corporation can spend on political activities is unconstitutionally limiting a person’s right to speech—is a significant boost to the expenditure of huge amounts of money in American politics.

Of course, Ms. Taylor (and the League) are right that changing the constitution is a slow process and that in order to prevent a further slide out of democracy we need swift action. However, it does not follow that Proposition 59 ought to be rejected—passing 59 is not in the slightest incompatible with simultaneously pursuing other means of rejecting our excessive dependence on money and thus monied interests. 

In fact, if California were to vote overwhelmingly in favor of 59, it would send a very strong message to the nation that we in this state are serious about eliminating the billions spent by the rich and powerful to seduce elected officials into support for their policies. 

Proposition 59 needs to be passed as a symbol of California’s determination to maintain as much of a democracy as we now have.

Merrill Ring

Claremont

An open letter to Democrats

Dear Editor:

After another shameful showing in the debate, it appears that Donald Trump stands a good chance of losing the election to Hillary Clinton. So why go out and vote? You’ll get what you want in the end, right? The democratic candidate in the White House, a woman in the White House—how positively progressive!

The truth is, giving Hillary the presidency with a Republican majority in the senate and house is really just another wasted four-year term full of bickering, concessions and threats to shut down the government. Do you remember?

Well, this is a senate election, too. The current US Senate has 54 Republicans and 45 Democrats (including one independent). There are 34 seats up for grabs, of which 24 are held by Republicans, 10 by Democrats. Donkey needs to gain four seats to take control, assuming Hillary wins. A few months ago, this was considered unthinkable. Today, most polls suggest that it might be a coin toss!

So, my fellow Democrats, if you really want a victory, get off all of your asses and vote a complete Democratic ticket, especially the congressional races. Vote in overwhelming numbers. Make America Sane Again!

Keith Thomas

Claremont

 

El Roble staff weighs in

Dear Editor:

Our public school facilities are in dire need of help. If you have not already seen the Claremont Unified School District facilities video by Claremont RISE, it is worth watching. It gives a comprehensive view of the needs of all of our schools.

As Claremont residents and teachers we are writing on behalf of all of our schools, but would like to share an example of the learning environment at El Roble Intermediate School because it is where we teach our students every day.

We have six portable classrooms that are 30 years old and falling apart. Based on their life expectancy, they should have been replaced 15 years ago. Also, our air conditioning and heating systems are in need of repair and our roofs need to be replaced.

The El Roble pool, built in 1958, has been closed for two years now, sitting as an empty gaping hole, unfit for use. Before its closure, the El Roble pool served as a tremendous resource for our school and the Claremont community. It was used by the American Red Cross, Mt. Baldy Aquatics, city of Claremont Learn to Swim programs, water polo clubs, CHS and the El Roble physical education water safety curriculum. The joy of hearing students use the pool, while learning in a safe and healthy way to stay physically and mentally fit, is greatly missed.

In addition, our PE locker rooms were designed in 1958 for approximately 600 students. Almost 60 years later we have roughly 1,100 students using the same, now overcrowded facilities, without air conditioning or heating.

All of our Claremont teachers take pride in providing a positive learning environment for students to thrive and become tomorrow’s leaders. Our students deserve schools with facilities that are modernized and give them a feeling of pride about their schools.

Please support our Claremont schools and community resources by voting Yes on Measure G!

Signed by El Roble teachers who live in Claremont.

Laurie Lama                Jackie Dahlberg                    Heather Lyn                    Susie Hensley                        Vanessa Mejia-Rap          Cindy Ireland                         Kathy Woodbury               Jill Johnson                            Kathy Zetterberg                Teri Kegans                           

Linda Atherton                    

 

Mountain View on Measure G

Dear Editor:

The following question was recently raised in the COURIER: “It’s been six years since the meltdown of community support for Measure CL. Since that time, what has changed?”

The article discussed interdistrict transfer students and the need to “right size” our schools. Academic performance was related to transfer students and enrollment numbers, with little talk about the initial question regarding change. After Mountain View Elementary was called a “low-performing, IDT heavy school,” we felt compelled to set the record straight.

What has changed is that the roofing has become leakier, the energy systems less efficient, the air conditioning faultier, the boards and beams looser and the windows draftier. The walkways have become worn, the wooden ramps have weathered, casings have become worn exposing electrical wiring, handles and locks have become loose, concrete has cracked, bathroom tiles have broken and door hinges now hang.

Six years of change in the form of day-to-day wear and tear of school facilities have occurred. Six years, beyond the previous decades of wear that have stretched every surface and structure to its limit. The $58 million generated by the passage of Measure G is to update and restore these things. It is true that portable classrooms are a part of facilities, but they are by no means the defining component of a glaring need to renovate our schools.

The article stated that “7,065 students attended CUSD schools in 2016, an increase from the 7,036 that attended CUSD in 2010.” That’s 29 more students district-wide in six years. Certainly the argument is not that 29 students spread across the city are responsible for what’s changed.

It was also stated that “IDTs in 2000 were at 17 percent and are now at 25 percent.” This is an increase of 8 percent over 16 years or 0.5 percent per year. Is the argument that portable classrooms and facilities maintenance wouldn’t be needed if IDTs didn’t grow by a half percent each year?

Last week’s article also claimed that IDTs are specifically funneled to the “low performing schools,” specifically, Mountain View, Oakmont and Vista. This categorization is incorrect.

Spring of 2016 was the first time in three years that state assessment growth data was available. The California State Standards Test (CST) was administered for the last time in spring 2013. Approximately four months ago, the California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CAASPP) was given for the second time and growth data became available. In the final years of the CST—specifically, 2011, 2012 and 2013—Mountain View’s Academic Performance Index (API) scores were 863, 880, and 873 respectively. These were among the highest district-wide and we were recognized at the state and federal levels for our excellence. During these years, our IDT percentages were also among the highest in the district.

The recent results of the CAASPP test given this spring were not on par with our achievements of the past, but we have already begun the work of analyzing our performance to determine how we can improve student learning and attain higher achievement.

We have not experienced a “beat down” from the district level as was claimed. We firmly believe that the three portable classrooms (on our campus for over 20 years) are not the cause for our one-year decline in test performance.

Vista Del Valle, with its 56 percent  IDT population, ranked fourth out of the seven elementary schools on the CAASPP this past year. In English Language Arts, their performance score was just 1 percent different from Condit.

Measure G is a bond to repair facilities, so we are unclear how school test performance is related to its passage. Is the argument that if all of our students had Claremont residency they could attain higher scores on future rounds of testing? In regard to testing and school performance, the past six years have seen a lot of change; however, IDTs do not and should not factor into our performance data.

We are teachers and community members. We own homes in the city and our own children attend Claremont schools.  Some of us are CUSD alumni. We are also voters. We support Measure G to improve and maintain the facilities we need to concentrate on the many changes that happen every day.

Sabrina Ho       Suzanne Callopy Miller Debbie Volz Barnes Sheila Mowbray Heather Stradley      Caroline Bearden Beth Coronado Michelle Wishner Maureen Free Ramon Villela

 

Together we can

Dear Editor:

The Little Red White and Blue Hen cried:

“Who will help our world village work better?”

The Sleeping Dog barked, “How? How? How?”

The Brown Cow mooed, “How now?”

The Fat Cat meowed, “Not me-any-ow!”

The Black Horse snorted, “Nay, nay!”

The Undecided Crows cried, “Cawn’t, cawn’t.”

The Elephant trumpeted, “If not only I, not aye!”

Yet the Little Red White and Blue Hen

looked at the broken glass ceiling and smiled:

“I think I can, I think I can, I think I can,

But better, together, we can!”

And, do you know what? They listened!

And joined in as the Little Piggies cried,

“We, we, we!” all the way home.

Elizabeth Moore

Pilgrim Place

Claremont

 

Pentagon should forgive National Guard debt

Dear Editor:

The Democratic Club of Claremont condemns the attempt by the Pentagon to claw back the money given as signing bonuses to members of the California National Guard. If the money was given mistakenly, it was through no fault of the individual members of the Guard and was the sole responsibility of the officials who authorized it.

Yet the attempt to have the money returned inflicts pain only upon the innocent. Therefore, the Pentagon must drop the attempt to recover the money.

John Forney

President

Democratic Club of Claremont

 

Vista del Valle principal sets the record straight

Dear Editor:

I am a Claremont resident and a parent of two children who attended Vista del Valle Elementary School. I graduated from Claremont High School and am also the current principal of Vista del Valle Elementary School.

As an educator and homeowner, I would like to share another point of view and respond to your article “It’s time to right-size our school district” by Jay Pocock.

Mr. Pocock infers that Mountain View, Oakmont and Vista del Valle are inferior schools when he states that they are “low performing.” However, each of these schools has been recognized by the Campaign for Business and Education Excellence as an Honor Roll school.

On behalf of my staff and, more importantly, Vista students, I must point out that Vista del Valle is not a low performing school. In addition to being an Honor Roll School and Title I Achievement Award School, the 2016 CAASPP results show that 11 percent more of our students met or exceeded standards in English language arts than students did statewide and in mathematics, 4 percent more of our students met or exceeded standards statewide.

In fact, test scores have steadily increased at the same time interdistrict (IDT) transfers increased, and Vista del Valle students performed comparable to the schools that Mr. Pocock listed with fewer IDT transfer students.

The community also needs to know that the CUSD Board of Education, district administration and I take great pride in the hard work our teachers do to support children. Vista teachers place a great deal of pressure upon themselves because of their commitment to our students.

As a principal and parent in the community, I feel it is important that the Claremont residents recognize each of our elementary schools has a unique and different learning community. I don’t want your readers to be misled into believing that transfer students weaken these communities when, in fact, they allow us to have more choice in selecting an elementary school that matches our values and interests.

For example, Vista’s multicultural community focus was one of the reasons my wife and I requested that our children attend the school. The elimination of children on transfer would reduce the ability for Claremont residents to have a choice in selecting an elementary school for their children.

Being able to add in some transfer students to fill a class is fiscally responsible and helps us preserve our school programs to meet the needs and interests of Claremont residents. In many situations, these students are grandchildren or relatives of Claremont residents and people that work in the Claremont community.  

Most of the families that attend on an IDT take an active role in our school and often become some of the most active parent volunteers. Children that attend CUSD on a transfer are not the reason we need a bond to maintain our schools.

I am disappointed that a bond is a requirement to keep up on the basic needs of our schools, because this creates inequities throughout the state. However, California voters came up with this funding process, therefore, it is critical that we do not let Claremont fall into the have-nots group. 

Measure G ensures that our children have access to a quality and safe learning environment. I consider roofs, air conditioning, upgraded wiring and items like working lockers as basic needs. I also support Measure G because quality school facilities and instructional programs with the best teachers add value to the community and, as a result, increase home values in Claremont where I live.

After being an administrator for 15 years, I can say that Vista has a faculty that is always looking for ways to improve their practice and they would be highly sought-after in neighboring school districts. Therefore, it is important to have good working conditions for our staff so we are able to continue attracting and retaining teachers of this caliber.

Mr. Pocock has every right to not support Measure G. However, I am disappointed that he paints Vista del Valle as a low performing school when, in fact, it is a very high-performing school. I am even more disappointed that he frames his argument in a manner that infers that the children are low-performing.

Vista del Valle is filled with hard working, high-quality staff members and wonderful children.

Brad Cuff

Claremont

 

A real solution or a real mess?

Dear Editor:

Can you imagine a woman, shut away on death row, in one cell with two guards, while her boyfriend is out in the general population of prisoners?

He told her to “stay put” in the car or he’d kill her. Instead, he robbed and killed the storekeeper. She was sent to death row. He had a different court and judge and was given a lighter sentence.

I have visited death row for the past 10 years and am convinced that its time to replace our failed, unfair death penalty. It’s filled with the poor, the black and Hispanics.

Prop 62 is the real solution. Life without the possibility of parole cuts out the costly appeals that re-open grief for victims’ families. It requires inmates to work and pay them restitution.

Many have been wrongfully committed and later proven innocent. Think!   Prop 62 can guarantee to never execute another innocent person. And, it will save our state $ 150 million a year. Say yes to Prop 62.

Let’s not be deceived by the promise of Prop 66 to reform the death penalty. Instead, they will move appeals from State Supreme Court to local County Courts leaving no room for other Criminal and Civil cases. The plan is to absorb all 747 death row inmates into these county facilities and budgets.

It rushes our Constitutional process and risks executing innocent persons. Also, they’ll use unqualified and inexperienced attorneys that have to be paid by local counties. What a mess! And if you read the fine print, they will also be allowed to hide the drugs they use to execute persons. We must say no to Prop 66.

Constance Waddell

Claremont

 

Measure A

Dear Editor:

Measure A is on the General Election Ballot. November 8 is your only opportunity for input. Measure A is a tax on improved private parcels throughout LA County. The tax thwarts Proposition 13 because it is not based on assessed value or length of home ownership. It is based on the square feet of our homes and rental properties.

It will be collected through your property tax bill. It has no expiration date; your tax bill each year is the only notice required; and the board alone decides which cities areas receive the money generated by the tax and the issuing of bonds. The rate can be raised each year by a majority vote of the Board of Supervisors. 

The money generated will be given to city areas identified through the 2016 Countywide Park Needs Assessment with priority going to very high- and high-need areas already identified. Many cities get nothing.

If this measure passes, how many government agencies will use a similar method to circumvent Proposition 13?

Search for: la county park needs assessment. Click on any city to see a map of all areas. Priorities are shown in red and orange. Read pages N LA 177-032 and 033 for all the resources in our lives they intend to control. It is not just parks.

Diana Blaine

Claremont

 

Measure A will benefit the Wilderness Park

Dear Editor:

We strongly urge you to vote for LA County Measure A on the November 8 ballot. It will protect clean water resources, upgrade urban parks and beaches, and preserve natural areas for wilderness parks in our hillsides.

The cost is minimal: $22.50 per year for a home of 1500 square feet (1.5 cents per square foot). To assure that funds are wisely spent, the measure provides for citizen oversight and independent audits.

Why is this measure on the ballot now?

It replaces funding from two propositions county voters passed in the 1990s that support parks, rivers and natural areas until 2019. Measure A is designed to extend the funding for these efforts for the next 30 years.

How may Claremonters benefit from it?

It could provide hundreds of thousands of dollars over the next 30 years to upgrade Claremont’s parks.

It could help us develop and maintain trails and facilities in the Wilderness Park.

It could help us preserve much more open space from development and expand our Wilderness Park by funding the purchase of small, private lots in our foothills that may be for sale in the future. Claremont has more than 10 such parcels. Since state funds are often inaccessible for small lots, the main funding sources are the county and the city. Measure A would help us add them to the Wilderness Park while sharing the costs with LA County.

It could supply local funds to leverage for large state and federal grants.

It could extend the wilderness corridor along the San Gabriel foothills by funding the purchase of natural areas in neighboring communities. Such projects may relieve congestion on our Loop trail and would provide additional recreational opportunities to Claremonters. Please join us in voting for Measure A.

Arlene Andrew                   Dave Bedell

Jill Benton                              Terry Grill

Tom Ilgen                           Meg Mathies

Lissa Petersen                      Andy Roth

Antonio Sanchez           Beverly Speak

Jim Van Cleve

The Claremont Wildlands

Conservancy Board

 

 

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