I wanted to express my appreciation for your recent editorial (“Measure I supporters need to get their message across,” Sept. 12).
Measure I supporters do need to get their message across. As an avid supporter of Atascadero schools, I am also growing anxious over the precious few days we have left before the election to gain the support needed for passage.
I also want to thank Steve Molter for his letter to the editor appearing on the same page (“How the little people live”). Frankly, we have not heard enough from those who might be in opposition to the bond issue. Such a dearth of feedback might only serve to lull supporters into a sense of complacency. Thank you, Molter, for the wake-up call.
It is not difficult for me to identify with Molter’s plight. I grew up in a family so poor that we could only dream of being the “lower-end middle class family” that he describes. Today, we can count six college degrees around the table when we reunite as a family.
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The fulfilling profess-ional jobs we enjoy today came as a result of the strong foundation of a sound education. A community that prioritized strong schooling gave that gift to our family. Supporters of Measure I are confident that Atascadero is one of those communities.
The dollar amount stated in Molter’s letter is misleading and tells only a small amount of the story. He writes about a $59 a year charge. What he is probably referring to is a $59 a year charge that will be levied for every $100,000 of assessed valuation for the district’s property owners.
What he might care to know is that he and other property owners already pay $97 per $100,000 of assessed valuation on a 40-year bond that will be expiring soon. So taxpayers need to know that their present tax bill will be reduced. It is important to note that this is not one of those occasions where you will pay an increase later to make up for the decrease seen today.
Legislation passed since the passage of our existing bond legally prevents an increase over the $59 rate (the actual rate may even be lower). The bond monies collected from our present bond were responsible for the construction of San Benito and San Gabriel elementary schools and other major projects in the district.
You might have questions about how the money will be spent, what percentage of the money will be spent locally and what kind of oversight there will be on the projects. These are all fiscally responsible questions.
One-hundred percent of the funds will be spent locally. By law, these bonds must be spent entirely within the Atascadero Unified School District and cannot be taken by the state and spent elsewhere.Funds collected cannot, by law, be used to pay for salaries for teachers or administrators. The monies may only be used for constructing new facilities or refurbishing existing buildings.
An independent citizens’ oversight committee will be established to ensure that the funds are spent properly. We have had such a group in place for the last 40 years to oversee the spending of the present bond.
The citizenry of Atascadero has been chided in the past, and rightly so, by The Tribune for the nature of its polarized politics. It might interest our citizens to know that both sides of the political spectrum are united in support of the bond measure. We shall soon see campaign literature distributed that features a variety of community leaders agreeing on the bond as a sound investment in our future.
Business interests in town are speaking out for the measure because the bond money may allow the district to relocate the junior high school and free the site to realize the vital city core that has been a vision for years.
As homeowners, we are often troubled by the constant expense of needed repairs. That leaking roof or that inconsistent heater has to be fixed. We have no choice. So many of the projects that will be prioritized with any new funding fall under the category of basic needs long ignored because of budget shortfalls.
The homes of our students are in disrepair.
Our students at Monterey Road Elementary School sit bundled in heavy coats in the winter because the boiler that is supposed to warm them is operating on its sixth decade of use. Science students toil in “laboratories” better suited for 19th century curriculums. I could cite dozens more dramatic cases of need that abound in our district that could be addressed by the passage of Measure I.
In the interest of fairness, you need to know that I am a teacher and an employee of the district. The school where I teach is my second home. More importantly, though, it is the second home of the students of Atascadero.
Like the prudent homeowners we are, we will want to provide a safe and healthy environment in a fiscally responsible manner for our charges. The appreciation for my hometown’s unselfish support of education is never-ending. That gift pays dividends for me daily. In November, the voters of Atascadero will step forward and bestow that same gift to its students. Make your voice heard
The local chapter of the American Association of University Women will be conducting a public forum at 7 p.m. Oct. 13 at San Gabriel Elementary School for anyone who may have questions about Measure I or wants to voice their opposition.
Ed Cabrera is in his 33rd year in education. Twenty-six of those years, he is proud to say, have been in the Atascadero Unified School District.