Let’s start with the math: If both the Cuesta and San Luis Coastal School bonds pass, that will cost the owner of a home assessed at $500,000 around $350 in annual property taxes. That works out to $29 per month, or roughly $1 per day.
We believe it’s well worth it.
Needs in both school districts go far beyond patching a few leaky roofs, replacing outdated plumbing fixtures and repainting peeling walls. (Though leaky roofs have, in fact, caused power outages and led to canceled classes at Cuesta.)
We are talking about major deficiencies that put our students at adisadvantage.
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At Cuesta College, 18 modular classrooms must be replaced or upgraded because they no longer meet state architectural standards.
There is limited Internet access at Cuesta College and San Luis and Morro Bay high schools. Keep in mind, Wi-Fi was unheard of when these campuses were built decades ago. (SLO High, for example, was built in 1936 and last renovated in 1979. )
Neither Morro Bay High nor San Luis High has a swimming pool. That means non-swimmers lose the opportunity to learn this important — even life-saving — skill in PE courses, and students involved in water sports must be transported to area swimming pools for practice, cutting into their study time.
At San Luis High, the chemistry lab is so antiquated that Advanced Placement students cannot perform all of the lab work in the AP curriculum.
Support services are woefully inadequate at the high schools. At San Luis High, for example, the counselors meet with students and parents in rooms the size of closets.
Here’s what passage of the bond measures will mean to the districts:
The $177 million San Luis Coastal bond would dedicate most of the funds to the two comprehensive high schools: $60 million each to San Luis High and Morro Bay High. The remaining money would be used for projects at other district schools, including a new multipurpose room/ cafeteria at Bishop’s Peak Elementary; safety fencing around C.L. Smith Elementary; and a new classroom wing and renovation of the library/ computer room at Pacific Beach High School.
Cuesta’s $275 million bond will cover a technology upgrade; repair deteriorating buildings more than 40 years old; replace the 18 out-ofcompliance portable buildings; and fund a new trades and technology building for the North County campus.
Both Cuesta and San Luis Coastal will save on costly repairs of aging infrastructure. Installation of energyefficient lighting and low-flow plumbing fixtures also will bring significant energy and water savings.
Some of these facilities — especially the swimming pools at the high schools — will serve the community, in addition to students.
An upgrade of aging campuses will create jobs, attract young families with children and help maintain local property values.
Now let’s get back to the bottom line: The $177 million San Luis Coastal bond — Measure D — will cost prop erty owners an additional $49 per $100,000 assessed value. The $275 million Cuesta bond — Measure L— will be less expensive — $19.45 per $100,000 value — since it will be assessed countywide.
Both districts are turning to voters out of necessity, because the state no longer provides anything close to adequate funding for maintenance and repairs.
Case in point: A $9 billion school facilities bond that easily made it through the state Legislature was squelched by Gov. Jerry Brown, and as a result will not be on the November ballot.
“Brown objected to piling up more debt, groused about how Sacramento dispenses the money to local districts and even questioned whether the state should be involved in helping to fund public school construction,” columnist George Skelton wrote last month in the Los Angeles Times.
School districts have little choice, then, but to ask taxpayers to invest in one of the most valuable resources — if not the most valuable resource — in our communities: our schools.
The bonds won’t transform our campuses into Taj Mahals; they will bring them into the 21st century.
The Tribune strongly urges a yes vote on Measure D and Measure L.