Earlier this year, the Milpitas Unified School District Board of Education decided to ask voters to invest in education by passing a bond. And now we are campaigning in favor of Measure AA, which will be on the ballot in November.
In the months since we voted to go out for a bond, I have heard some interesting comments, which I would like to respond to here.
First, it is a lot of money we are asking for, and we need to make sure we spend it in a way that serves our community and education system for as long as possible. It is a new day, and we look to the near future of education as something that may change the model for traditional public schools in California as we look to the 22nd century.
For now, the brick and mortar aspects of public schools require us to build new classrooms in place of old ones, and the cost of real estate forces us to go up in replacing existing structures. For many decades, Milpitas enjoyed very steady enrollment, and now even with the expansion of the transit area homes, our district will show only a slight growth pattern over the next twenty years or so. It should be noted that most of the South Bay school districts are experiencing a decline in enrollment, with some closing schools.
As for the future of education, that hinges on several things.
The State of California does not help us enough with special ed, preschool, or career technical education. They have an art standard, but do not require school districts to perform to any metric. The art programs in Milpitas are huge, with hundreds of kids in elementary music, vocal, art, and digital art, and thousands in band. Local control funding, which was implemented several years ago, cut career technical education funds. Those changes resulted in our Joint Power Agency having to fund the Silicon Valley Career Technical Center in San Jose and lobby heavily in Sacramento. Having said all that, enrollment in Career Tech at our center continues to be on the rise, although the funding is very tenuous.
And finally, construction and modernization. And for those things the state does not fund, we will continue to lobby for with our local Assembly Members and Members of the State Senate. The state did not put computers in our classrooms or network the entire district — you, the community, did that with the last bond. Keeping the facilities up and expanding learning spaces came from you, and we are grateful for the community’s support in providing those funds.
Now we are faced with finishing Mabel Mattos, which became an unwitting victim of the redevelopment agency debacle, many years of debate, and the school district over a barrel.
We have some massive catching up to do at the high school, and our citizens want us to build a second high school campus.
Randall Elementary was overlooked for upgrades several times, and the time has come to put a new face on that school so the community can look at it with pride.
Security and safety are a priority for us at every workplace we have in the school district.
The bottom line is we cannot do any of this without your help, understanding, and YES vote on Measure AA.
Milpitas Unified School District Board of Education, President