As a candidate for the upcoming School Board election, I would like to respond to the recent Milpitas Beat article about statements I made.
I stand by my statements about my advocacy work with MUSD leadership to increase funding for our schools and protect hard-working Milpitas families from tax increases. The Milpitas Beat article referenced an unnamed MUSD representative, who does not appear to have ever been engaged in my work with the school district.
On August 8, 2018, I initiated a research on developer funding strategies used by four Bay Area school districts: Fremont, Santa Clara, Dublin, and Evergreen. I presented my research to the superintendent, school board president, and vice-president on August 17, 2018. I shared that Fremont’s new school was donated by developers, while our new school is funded by taxes on Milpitas residents. I lobbied our school district leaders to act. I discussed requiring the city and developers to work with our superintendent to mitigate the impact on our schools, which then was adopted in an amendment at the August 22, 2018 City Planning Commission meeting. I discussed undesignating home school for new projects to pressure developers to contribute to our schools, which then was reviewed at the September 11, 2018 board meeting. I discussed increasing both mandated and voluntary contributions to get developers to pay for their fair share in funding our schools. The board approved higher mandated fees at the November 13, 2018 board meeting.
Before, our schools had no influence over project approval in the city. Since this initiative, every developer has to work with our superintendent to mitigate their impact on our schools. The first such project was the Core Companies project, in which our schools collected over $1 million in school fees and playground financing for Mattos. More recently, the Robson Homes project included $200,000 in developer contribution above mandated fees. Chris Norwood, Vice-President of the School Board, and Cheryl Jordan, School District Superintendent, personally thanked me in writing for my research, inputs, and advocacy. This is why I summarized our collaborative effort as “My funding initiative enabled our schools to collect over $1M from developers, without creating any new taxes for Milpitas families.”
I also mentioned that in the last 20 years, the MUSD had not applied for any of the $36 billion state matching funds that Sacramento gave away to California schools. My quote was taken from the MUSD’s August 27, 2019 newsletter. Only after I emphasized this in my campaign, did MUSD correct themselves on January 14, 2020. The latest information posted on the MUSD website proves that the district’s August 27, 2019 statement was inaccurate.
There was a time when matching funds were not available or that we did not qualify for them. But the fact remains that MUSD received $0 in the last 20 years. 20 years are plenty of time and opportunities to position ourselves to access these funds. Other districts timed their bond for the availability of these funds and proactively filed their application into the backlog when funds were depleted. These school districts have received state matching funds because the program operates on a first-come, first-served basis.
Our school district still has $500M of unfunded facility needs, and it has not applied matching funds for all eligible projects in 2012 Measure E. We must absolutely explore every funding option before imposing new taxes on Milpitas families.
I have great respect for our school district leadership as I have worked with them behind the scenes to help our schools. No other candidate for the Milpitas School Board has spent as much effort as I have with them to find alternative funds, increase much-needed resources for our schools, while protecting hardworking Milpitas families from tax increases. This is why many local and regional leaders are endorsing my campaign for the Milpitas School Board. As your trustee, I will be an even more effective leader. Together, we will give our students the best opportunities, our teachers the resources they need, and our families a great environment to thrive.