Letters to the Editor

Passage of Measure D is crucial to students’ futures

By many measures, our San Luis Coastal students and teachers are achieving extraordinary academic results. A 97 percent graduation rate is a prime example of our success.

But these achievements are at risk. The truth is our students and teachers are accomplishing this in facilities that are literally crumbling around them.

That’s why we support Measure D, a $177 million bond proposal that would, among other things, accomplish the following:

Provide urgently needed upgrades in our classrooms and labs.

Improve our students’ access to current technology.

Update vocational education facilities and programs to increase students’ employment readiness.

Fix leaky roofs, rusty pipes and old wiring.

Enhance the energy efficiency of our buildings so more money is available for instruction and less is spent paying utility bills.

While all of our schools need improvement, the fact is that our high school facilities are so run-down and lacking in current technology that they often impede our students’ success after they graduate.

Our students — whether they go on to college or launch their work careers immediately after graduation — are finding out that students from other systems have a leg up because they were exposed to more current technologies and had access to more handson learning experiences.

San Luis Obispo High School was built nearly 80 years ago, and Morro Bay High School more than 50 years ago. They were designed for instruction using blackboards and podiums. Work space is inflexible and inefficient for a good learning environment.

Approximately $120 million of Measure D funds will be allocated equally between San Luis Obispo and Morro Bay high schools for renovation. The remaining $57 million will be apportioned to all other schools throughout the district.

Financially, there is no better time than now to pass this bond. The district is debt free and has a balanced budget. Interest rates are at historic lows, but almost certainly will be higher two years from now.

And we believe Measure D is an excellent value proposition: The tax rate per property owner is estimated to be $49 per $100,000 of assessed valuation a year, or approximately $22 per month based on the average cost of a home in the district. We feel strongly that $22 per month to increase academic achievement and opportunity for our children is a great value. Any delay will only make improvements more expensive.

And, voters can be certain that all money spent goes to construction, not to salaries, benefits or pensions. As required by law, an independent citizen oversight committee must be appointed to control funding and assure bond money is used exclusively for construction costs.

On the campaign trail we’ve heard people question investment in athletic facilities. We believe a good physical education is an important part of students having a wellrounded educational experience. We have heard strong support from the community for improving our athletic facilities, particularly the addition of pools in Morro Bay and San Luis Obispo. It should be noted that less than 10 percent of the Measure D investment is allocated to all athletic facilities.

The bottom line: Our high schools are in terrible physical shape. Our middle schools and elementary schools need work. It is our responsibility as citizens to provide our students access to a learning environment that boosts their life opportunities. We urge you to invest in our public schools and vote yes on Measure D.