The passage of an $81 million school bond proposal here on the coast reverses a pattern of crumbling infrastructure at Cabrillo Unified schools and it builds upon momentum that has heartened school leaders and parents the last couple of years.
The good times began with passage of a long-sought parcel tax in 2010. That victory proved Coastsiders understood the importance of educating their children. The election of enthusiastic new board members who weren’t shackled to the largess afforded former Superintendent John Bayless and the divisive mistakes of Wavecrest was also important. Despite ongoing statewide budget woes, there is a feeling that things are finally going the district’s way.
There is new leadership at the top. Superintendent Tony Roehrick and others who are being promoted heading into the next school year bring fresh ideas, the enthusiasm of new eyes and a hopeful nature to the task at hand.
To be sure, that task is mighty. Last month, the school board bowed to pressure from constituent groups and vowed to protect administrative positions that were to make up half of the savings necessary to close the budget gap. It was an understandable move based on providing the best education possible for the district’s students.
It was also a gamble. At the time, school leaders didn’t know where that $1 million would come from. While they can’t use the Measure S bond money to pay for those salaries and ongoing expenses, a sudden influx of capital is sure to allow everyone in the school offices to breathe a little easier.
The success of the school bond is a significant victory for schoolchildren on the coast. That money will go toward repairing restrooms, improving access for the disabled, replacing tired wiring and installing 21st-century technology and extracurricular opportunities that are important prerequisites to a good education.
Had the measure failed — and it barely passed — our schools would have suffered and that means the entire Coastside would have suffered. The school system would not have been able to keep pace with better educational opportunities on the Peninsula. It would have been forced to make cuts that would make no one happy, cuts that would have caused anxious parents of means to send their children elsewhere. That, in turn, would have hurt the district’s ability to attract private funds.
School leaders must now put that money to best use and that means repairing existing buildings first. It was clear that some of the more grandiose proposals — a new swimming pool and a palatial performance center — did not resonate well with voters. Cabrillo administrators should take that lesson to heart and instead make our schools models of efficiency and modern learning.