By Nancy Gutierrez
Last Tuesday Nov. 4 Strathmore residents voted a resounding yes on Measure K. More than half, 62 percent, of voters agreed with the measure that would make Strathmore Union High School the newest addition to the Porterville Union School District.
A written evaluation regarding the changes both educationally and physically to PUSD and SUHS was published. It detailed areas requiring immediate attention, as well as adjustments for employee salary if the measure passed.
SUHS will change its seven period schedule to six periods and the number of units required to graduate will be decreased from 260 to 220. The lower salary schedule for employees at Strathmore will increase to meet the schedule for PUSD employees. The increased cost to PUSD is projected at $339,400.08. That cost will be covered by a revenue increase that PUSD will receive due to an increase in Average Daily Attendance (ADA) revenues. The additional ADA revenue for PUSD is projected at $492,928.78.
More importantly the measure gives full control of the future of SUHS to the governing board of PUSD.
"I still have some concerns," Ron Buenafe said. "Some things have been clarified but we still need to see what's going to happen to Strathmore."
Buenafe is relieved that Measure K mailers, given to voters, promised that SUHS would stay a comprehensive high school and would not be closed or turned into a continuation high school. But he said he still has never seen or heard of an actual plan for the school.
"They campaigned this as good for the kids," Buenafe said. "My question is are they saying the kids should get something equal to what the employees are getting [with the transfer]."
PUSD Superintendent John Snavely said the first step will be to start a dialogue between the two organizations and have a meeting between staff from each area. He also said that the course catalogue for the schools will be addressed to include courses offered in Porterville for students in Strathmore.
"That's part of what enhances the programs that the students can migrate from one school to another for certain courses," he said.
The transfer takes effect July 1, 2004. Snavely said PUSD is still trying to explore the options for the Strathmore campus. They are looking to create a program that will entice students in Porterville to migrate to Strathmore as well.
"We intend to increase the population there either by making it a magnet program or some other type of academy that will be unique to Strathmore," he said. "It is an exciting opportunity for both organizations."
"Arguments in favor of measure K," published by the registrar of voters and signed by Strathmore and Porterville administrators, touts Measure K as the answer to improve both districts, allow for improved quality education for the students and add to the value of homes and the community.
Pete Lara, President of the SUHS District Board of Trustees, was one of the proponents who signed the "arguments in favor," document. He said the community realized what a great opportunity the territorial transfer was.
"I graduated from Strathmore so my heartstrings get pulled, but it's a good thing for the students," he said.