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Milpitas
Tuesday, February 7, 2023
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Letters to the EditorLetter to the Editor: School Board Candidate Kong's response about developer fees...

Letter to the Editor: School Board Candidate Kong’s response about developer fees and state matching funds

Dear Editor:

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.

 

Ling Kong

 

 

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2 COMMENTS

  1. This still seems like a lot of obfuscation from Kong and the Better Milpitas people who have a well documented history of deception and half-truths. She seems to be trying to take credit for actions by the school board and the planning commission. Nowhere does she even assert that she actually initiated any of the proposals that led to increased funding. Instead she just says repeatedly she “discussed” it (whatever that means) with no reference to whether those proposals and initiatives were already in the pipeline.

    More damning is that she never even addresses the concerns that her and Better Milpitas’ initiative to hold a wasteful and unnecessary special election will cost the school district 100,000 dollars to elect a school board trustee. She should probably have “discussed” that some more.

    Our kids deserve more than a deceptive representative who puts her ego and vanity above the interests of the school system.

    Anybody but Kong for School Board

  2. So, Jay, I gather you’re yet another tool of the status quo in Milpitas civic affairs.

    Whatever a reasonable person may conclude regarding Ling’s various opinions on public matters, it is patently dishonest to refer to her as you have: “a deceptive representative who puts her ego and vanity above the interests of the school system.” I’ve known her for nearly a decade – I’ve coached her boys in various sports, our families have been on several large group camping trips together, I see her from time to time socially or at school events – and it is laughable to assert ego and vanity as salient characteristics of her personality. She is smart, thoughtful, hard-working, humble, and honest. Unlike almost all other people who I’ve observed seeking or occupying office in a civic organization, she is in no measure about self-aggrandizement.

    But your explicit misrepresentation of her character is only one bit of the dishonesty to be found in what you’ve written. Your entire first paragraph is a transparent attempt to twist Ling’s explanation to fit the narrative you’ve already decided to tell, from the lead-off characterization of obfuscation to the raised-eyebrow enclosure of the word discussed in quotation marks (consult a dictionary, Jay, if you find yourself flummoxed by the meaning of words). Ling did some research on strategies for school districts to obtain developer funding. She subsequently shared the knowledge she gained with several MUSD officials (that’s what “discussing” means, Jay). That lead to several salutary actions on the part of the school board and planning commission. If, as you insinuate, those actions were already in the pipeline and were destined to happen without prodding from Ling, then share your knowledge to that effect.

    You betray your bias and dishonesty again in the second paragraph. Not discussing the events leading to the special election is in no way “damning,” since it is inapposite with respect to the subject of her letter. However, since you brought it up, I’ll discuss it briefly here. The special election was necessitated by the incompetent and unethical actions of the superintendent and school board in the process of appointment of the interim school board member to fill the vacated school board seat back in August, the details of which have been explained thoroughly elsewhere. If you want to place blame for wasting $100,000, then you can more properly lay it on Cheryl Jordan, Chris Norwood, Hon Lien, and Kelly Yip-Chuan.

    Jay, you and your kids don’t deserve better than Ling Kong. A person of your character deserves far less. I have no doubt that’s what you’ll work (and vote) to get.

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