Guest Column: Setting record straight with Measures U and E
October 21, 2014
Information published recently in Sierra Sun opinion pieces have included several factual inaccuracies regarding Measures U and E.
To ensure local voters have accurate information on which to base their voting decisions, here are the facts:
Fact – Funds from Measure U will only be spent on the schools in Truckee. Funds from Measure E will only be spent on schools in the Lakeside area.
By law, all funds from Measure U must be spent on Truckee area schools, including facilities shared by Truckee and Lakeside students such as Sierra High School and Cold Stream Alternative School. On November 4, the Lakeside area will vote on a separate school improvement measure (Measure E) that will fund projects only for the Lakeside schools and only be paid for by Lakeside residents and businesses.
Fact – TTUSD funds school facility maintenance but current conditions go beyond simple maintenance issues.
TTUSD devotes over 3 percent of its budget annually for maintenance of facilities. This includes money budgeted for routine maintenance, repairs and maintenance staff.
However, the age of many local school buildings and associated infrastructure make maintenance difficult and costly. At older schools such as Truckee High, which was built in the 1950s, outdated electrical, plumbing, heating and ventilation systems are simply beyond repair.
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Continuing to spend limited school district maintenance dollars on these obsolete systems is wasteful. Just as homeowners must do periodically, Measures E and U will replace obsolete systems with up-to-date systems that can be maintained more efficiently.
Fact – Measures E and U fund specific projects and upgrades to local schools.
TTUSD completed a rigorous facilities master planning and prioritization process to determine the projects that Measure E and U would fund. These projects are based on key health, safety and educational needs, so that the most critical facility needs are addressed.
It has been suggested that these measures constitute a "blank check," which couldn't be farther from the truth. In fact, both Measures E and U go far beyond the level of project specificity typically included in similar school improvement measures.
The detailed list of projects that are incorporated by reference into the legal text of Measures U and E can be found on our website at http://www.ttusd.org.
Fact – Measures E and U require strict fiscal accountability.
Mandatory taxpayer protections written into the legally-bind text of Measures E and U ensure that funds will be spent as promised. Annual financial and performance audits and public reports must detail the use of all funds.
An independent citizens' oversight committee must be formed, representing diverse community interests, to ensure that all funds from Measure E and U are spent properly.
By law, the committee must include at least one individual from the business community, a senior organization and a parent with a child currently in the District.
Fact – Measures E and U focus dollars on improvements to classrooms, science labs and other academic facilities that contribute to quality student instruction.
Contrary to some recent statements, Measure E and U do not fund sound stages, student unions, a black box theater, separate athletics weight rooms or technology items with a short lifespan.
The only technology funding in these measures is for long lifespan infrastructure upgrades such as fiber optic and other cabling. Again, please review the detailed project lists available at http://www.ttusd.org.
Fact – TTUSD offers outstanding educational opportunities and programs to prepare local students for college and careers. Compared to other school districts of our size, TTUSD offers challenging and well-rounded learning opportunities for local students.
For example, each of our high schools offers 12 advanced placement courses where students can earn college credits. Specialized programs in science, technology, engineering and math help to prepare students for in-demand careers in fields like health care, engineering and computer technology.
I hope these facts help set the record straight. If you have any additional questions, please feel free to contact me directly at 530-582-2550 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dr. Robert Leri is superintendent of the Tahoe Truckee Unified School District.