My Turn: Measure U, a good return on investment | SierraSun.com

My Turn: Measure U, a good return on investment

Laura Brown
Executive Director, Tahoe Truckee Excellence in Education Foundation

Two years ago our community came together around Education Matters, a community input process created to set educational priorities for our region. The 800-plus participants identified eight priorities, including the need for a “Safe, Healthy Environment.” In the forums people spoke to the importance of quality educational facilities and a safe physical learning environment. On Nov. 4 our community once again has the opportunity to speak its voice and help make that priority a reality for our students and teachers in Truckee by voting “yes” on Measure U.

Measure U will address safety concerns and provide the resources to modernize Truckee schools to promote 21st century learning. These facilities were built over 50 years ago and are in desperate need of upgrades. Research has shown concrete evidence that up-to-date facilities support better overall learning and adds to the pride and morale of a school community. While I know there are several contributing factors, Alder Creek Middle School’s Academic Performance Index (API) has increased from 776 to 841 in the three years students have been in the new school building. Better lighting and air circulation are considered contributing factors to this rise ” mere complements to the fabulous teachers and students, of course! The newly built North Tahoe High classrooms offer integrated multi-media systems giving teachers access to the Internet, video presentation and overhead projection. Teachers and students alike have commented on how exciting it is to work in this atmosphere. Not only do people feel valued and inspired to learn in facilities that offer current technology, but it also prepares our students for the world in which we live today. Truckee Elementary and High School were built in the 1950s and quite a bit has changed since then. Our children will surely benefit by our schools being “wired” for 21st century learning and offering vocational classrooms that reflect the careers of today and tomorrow.

While Measure U is a new bond ” it is merely an extension of an existing bond (Measure C) that was approved by voters in 1999 to build Alder Creek Middle School. Because Measure C was managed well, we actually only pay $34 per $100,000 assessed property value as opposed to the $48 that voters approved. The strong fiscal management of Measure C is giving us the opportunity to leverage our dollars and use the $13 “gap” to start these much needed projects at today’s building costs. Measure U will work within Measure C’s original commitment of $48 per $100,000 of assessed property value ” it just extends the tax rate further into the future (from 2025 to 2052).

A strong educational system is at the core of a healthy and thriving community. As a community member and parent of future TTUSD students, I believe the return on investment with Measure U will be significant. Please join me in voting “yes” on Measure U!