Letter to the Editor: Measure A meets growing demand for classrooms

Dear Editor,

Visalia is growing and the number of schools in our district has multiplied to try to keep up with that growth. Over the last 10 years, the City of Visalia has issued building permits for the construction of over 4,300 new homes. The changing role of technology in teaching is unprecedented. How we communicate has changed. And today’s employers have great expectations of new employees.

But one thing has not changed. Roofs need to be replaced, carpet wears out, paint fades and chips, and heating/air conditioning units quit heating and cooling. And technology becomes outdated in a constantly changing world.

Today, in addition to regular maintenance, school district management needs to take advantage of new technologies that helps reduce energy use—and save money. Our students need science and computer labs that offer current software and equipment.

In addition, the school district must ensure that our school facilities are safe and accessible to disabled children.

Well-maintained and up to date campuses contribute to quality education. What message do we send to our children, our parents, newcomers to town and prospective employers if we fail to maintain and upgrade our schools?

With 40 schools, Visalia Unified School District is a city unto itself. Roofing, electrical systems, plumbing, computers, phones, sidewalks and parking lots—the list goes on and on.

Because of the cost of maintaining this city within a city, and continuing residential growth in our community, Visalia Unified School District’s Board of Trustees voted to put a bond measure on the November ballot. With the funds generated by Measure A, as it has been labeled, we can look forward to improvements to campuses throughout the district and a new high school so we can provide balanced student populations and opportunities. Our willingness to support a reasonable property tax will generate matching funds from the State of California—effectively doubling our investment. No funds can be used for salaries or benefits.

I appreciate the hard work and visionary leadership of our elected Trustees, the District employees and my fellow volunteers on the Yes on Measure A committee. Much research went into developing the work plan for Measure A and committee members took steps to ensure that the funds are used carefully. A Citizens’ Oversight Committee will monitor the use of funds and the District will be required to have independent performance and financial audits completed each year and reviewed in an open and transparent public process.

It is imperative that voters understand the need, the cost and the plan for use of their property tax dollars. The committee members, Trustees and senior staff of Visalia Unified are available to answer questions, or visit the web sites, www.vusd.org and www.visaliansforMeasureA.com.

Thank you for doing your homework and supporting our community and our students of today and tomorrow.

Mike Olmos
Visalians for Measure A

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