Dee Mann: No on Measure B; consolidate the fiefdoms
As a successful local business owner, I urge you to vote No on Measure B, which calls for a $47 million tax bond (yes, that’s $47 million).
However, as if that isn’t bad enough, what the proponents of the measure don’t readily disclose is that, by their own estimation, the cost to the taxpayers to pay off this bond with interest is a staggering $76 million (and yes, that’s $76 million), see this for yourself (See this story online for a direct link).
And just to be clear, all that money is only for the high schools, so most of the local campuses would receive nothing. Many opposed to Measure B have rightfully brought up the declining enrollment, the likeliness of closing a high school, and called to question the validity for the need for all the repairs called for in Measure B. And we know that other schools in Nevada County are already being closed.
However, there are other good reasons to oppose Measure B. It’s the duty of the administrators of Nevada Joint Union High School District, including the school board, to represent the taxpayers and manage the budget in a prudent manner as any good business owner would. This has not happened and they want to fix their problems on the backs of taxpayers and not all taxpayers, just the ones who own property.
Over the years, there has not been a problem with a lack of funding, the problem has been with improper spending. Their poor management with bad reserve planning has led to this situation and its unacceptable to come back to the taxpayer trough with Measure B. Any good business owner knows to set aside monies for the replacement of improvements such as roofs, plumbing and heating systems. The IRS recognizes the fact that real estate wears out and sets up depreciation schedules to allow for this. Even the State of California recognizes the need for reserve planning and has legislated homeowner association budgets that set aside reserve funding money per the Davis-Sterling Act, CA Civil Code 5550. We cannot continue to enable poor NJUHSD management with bad reserve planning. The bureaucratic unionization of spending an unreasonable amount of the budget on salaries, in particular for administration, needs to be broken.
In addition, while they tout this measure as the fix for things that we are led to believe are essential needs like the roofs, plumbing and heating systems, this Measure allows for too many optional, nonessential things like bleachers, music rooms, tennis courts, landscaping and swimming pools. In fact, Superintendent Johnson has admitted that if the measure is rejected by the voters, the necessary repairs will be just be paid for out of the general fund. It’s simply unfair to strap our children, grandchildren and even great-grandchildren with a 30 or more year legacy debt from this outrageous boondoggle Measure B.
Further, this Measure doesn’t prevent the old political version of the shell game. While the Measure does preclude using bond monies for some salaries, they can still cut back on the percentage of the existing general budget currently allocated to building repairs and maintenance and then increase the amount spent on salaries, benefits and other perks from the general budget. Same poor management, just a different day.
Instead of Boondoggle B, there are two real problems the school system needs to fix that would help:
First problem — the western Nevada County school system is suffering from is bureaucratic inefficiency with all the different school districts acting like their own fiefdoms. Overlapping and duplicated services such as administration, purchasing, equipment, campuses, etc. simply waste too much of our money. They need is to consolidate these fiefdoms into a single western Nevada County school district for cost savings and therefore the betterment of our students. And wouldn’t it fix a lot of their alleged repair and maintenance issues if they consolidated school campuses, too — as an example consolidate the adjoining Bear River, Magnolia and Cottage Hill schools onto one campus and sell off the two surplus schools.
Second problem — one of the reasons there is declining enrollment is because more and more parents are finding better alternatives like home schooling, charter and private schools and one can’t blame those parents. The schools need to prioritize a proficiency in the basics of reading, writing and arithmetic before other elective type classes and extracurricular actives. Students need to be able to do things required in the real world such as coherently fill out a job application, balance a check book and file an income tax return. In addition, the schools need to offer students better vocational and technology education to prepare them with real job skills.
Fixing these two problems will go a long way toward curing the alleged financial woes. Please join me in voting No on Boondoggle B.
Dee Mann lives in Grass Valley.
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