By Charlie Plowman
This coming Tuesday, Nov. 7, could mark one of the most important days in the history of the La Cañada Unified School District and for its students. It’s when local residents will head to the polls and, in addition to voting for school board candidates, they will also be asked to vote on Measure LCF. This is the proposed general obligation bond that will raise $149 million over the next 30 years.
As supporters have said, there won’t be any increase in taxes beyond what LCF residents already pay. The measure is designed to issue new bonds as the old bonds are paid off.
LCUSD Superintendent Wendy Sinnette recently noted that “our district has often contributed more than the minimum required to cover costly projects like replacing outdated heating and ventilation systems, replacing roofs and other large projects. As bond funds are used to repair or replace aging facilities and building systems, fewer dollars from our budget will be required for facilities and those savings can be utilized for instructional programming. However, we will continue a maintenance budget to protect the taxpayers’ investment in our school facilities.”
As Ted Brown, secretary of the Foothills Libertarian Party and outspoken opponent of Measure LCF said, “Just spending money doesn’t always give students a better education.” That’s a good point.
That’s why I was glad to hear that it seems like LCUSD has its ducks lined up on where this money will go, and I am impressed with what I’m reading:
• Improving campus security
• Replacing deteriorating portable classrooms with new permanent classrooms
• Modernization of technology education facilities
• Improving campuses for seismic safety
• Overhauling and modernizing the arts and athletics facilities at La Cañada High School.
Keep in mind that LCHS was constructed in 1962 and ’63. Although there have certainly been improvements and additions over the years, the campus is also now 55 years old. And then consider that all three of LCUSD’s elementary schools — La Cañada Elementary, Palm Crest and Paradise Canyon — are older than the high school.
Josh Epstein, who is co-chair with Stephanie Fossan of the Yes on Measure LCF campaign, remarked: “I’m not in the business of convincing people that taxes are a good thing. But what are tax dollars for, if not making these already great schools more fantastic? In La Cañada, we get to see our tax dollars really at work and paying off.”
We are fortunate to live in a community where our public schools are among the cream of the crop in the entire state. We are generally ranked in the top two along with San Marino, and it’s been that way for much of the past two decades.
You might be thinking, “What good does this do for families who don’t have children attending LCUSD public schools?” After all, our city is home to three exceptional private high schools — Flintridge Prep, Flintridge Sacred Heart and St. Francis — as well as fine schools for elementary-age students at La Cañada Preparatory, The Learning Castle and Crestview Preparatory. “Why should I want to support this bond?”
Consider this: It’s no secret that the high home values in our city are directly correlated to our outstanding public schools and their sky-high statewide rankings. Every real estate professional in the area knows this, and it’s one of the first things a Realtor will tell a prospective home buyer. With the price-per-foot in excess of $600, that would value a 3,000-square-foot home at around $2 million. As the marketing campaign says, “A great public education isn’t free.”
But what might be most convincing is this is a topic that virtually all our local politicians agree upon. The highest-ranking politicians from their respective political parties which serve LCF — Congressman Adam Schiff (a Democrat) and L.A. County Supervisor Kathryn Barger (a Republican) — support this measure. So do state Sen. Anthony Portantino and Assemblywoman Laura Friedman. And so does LCF’s entire City Council: Mayor Mike Davitt, Mayor Pro Tem Terry Walker, and council members Greg Brown, Jon Curtis and Len Pieroni. And so do all five members of the LCUSD Governing Board. No matter what side of the political aisle our elected officials are on, they all agree that “Yes on Measure LCF” is a good thing.
Think about that for a moment. In this polarized political climate, whether these 14 top elected officials voted last year for Trump or Hillary or someone else, all of them agree on the importance and value of this bond.
Let’s keep our schools on the path of excellence and vote “Yes” on Measure LCF.
Plowman is the Outlook Publisher.