Editorial: When things change, the school district needs to change too

By Patric Hedlund, Editor

Every institution in our society has had to make changes to respond to the recession that is so deeply affecting the finances of our families, small businesses, corporations, cities, states and nation. The world has transformed dramatically since a $7.2 million school bond was approved by local voters in November of 2005.

That bond was passed with false statements by former El Tejon Unified School District Superintendent John Wight about the level of matching funds that would come from the state. Inadequate oversight by the school board allowed an error to appear on the ballot about ‘permanent’ versus ‘modular’ structures to be built at the elementary and middle schools. Wight was out the door shortly after under an ethical cloud, and the ballot errors led to six years of delays in building replacement classrooms. In that time, the world flipped upside down economically.

ETUSD is now a declining-enrollment district that is also wounded by the state’s failure to fully fund education. The 7th through 12th grades may be consolidated in 2013, which may lead to mothballing either El Tejon School (built in 1939, now next to Interstate-5’s 77,000 vehicles a day) or Frazier Mountain High School (built in 1995, and in need of a new roof).

Can the bond money be redirected to the high school? The school board and superintendent should provide a complete and credible report to the community detailing how the bond funds—for which all of us are paying with our property taxes each year—may be redirected in these extraordinary times to meet the real needs of the district in 2012…not the needs of 2005.

This is part of the July 27, 2012 online edition of The Mountain Enterprise.

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