Editorial: Measure I is essential, not perfect

On Nov. 4, Conejo Valley Unified School District (CVUSD) residents will vote on Measure I – a school bond that aims to increase revenue for the district in a time of impactful and substantial budget cuts.

If 55% of CVUSD residents vote in favor of Measure I on election day, it will raise $197 million of revenue by extending the current tax rate set by Measure R in 1998. Measure R funded the construction of the Performing Arts Center, as well as other projects. Measure I has the potential to make just as impactful and even more important improvements to campus.

The bond would upgrade science labs, repair aging school sites, improve safety, and purchase new technology. Unfortunately, if it does not pass, these improvements most likely will not happen due to budget constraints. This could leave CVUSD unprepared to handle the next generation of students.
CVUSD’s budget was cut by $22 million after the financial crisis of 2008. The district’s budget has recovered over the past few years but it is still short of where it was before the crash. These cuts, along with Governor Jerry Brown’s recent local funding initiative, have left the district without the resources to purchase technology or improve safety.

Currently, parent organizations (including the Parent Faculty Association) have taken on much of this burden, holding bake sales to buy computers and increase campus security. However, PFAs should not be responsible for funding such instrumental and necessary projects. The bond would expand on the initiatives of the PFAs while allowing parents to focus on other ventures.

In an age where technology is essential in college and in the workplace, it is imperative that the school allows students to interact with technology on a regular basis. The proposal specifically sets aside $3 million per year in a Technology Endowment Fund. Each year, a portion of this would be given to the school and the administration would be responsible for determining the most effective use of the funds. |

With a campus that is over 40 years old, NPHS is in dire need of repair. The bond sets aside $55.5 million for high schools to fix crumbling infrastructure and improve science labs.

Obviously, there is opposition to Measure I. Some feel that it is an exorbitant tax increase on property owners. However, $32.70 for every $100,000 of assessed property value is a small price to pay to ensure our schools are modern, safe, and well-equipped. This is especially true considering that the proposed tax rate is much lower than that of surrounding districts. Moorpark Unified School District currently has a bond with a tax rate of $72.25, while Oak Park Unified School District has a rate almost six times that of the proposed one for CVUSD at $187.30.

Others are concerned that funds may be mismanaged or spent incorrectly. However, if the bond measure passes, CVUSD will be obligated to establish a District Advisory Council (DAC) specifically for the bond that will include representatives from community organizations like the Conejo Valley Chamber of Commerce. This committee would meet regularly and be responsible for the bond budget and projects.

Measure I is not perfect. However, the passage of Measure I is essential to ensuring a bright future for CVUSD and preparing district schools for the next generation. “You gotta start. You gotta move forward. And this proposal can move us forward. It won’t be perfect … (but) I can guarantee you it will be beneficial,” said Baarstad.