From the superintendent: Colusa Unified requesting voter input
Asking voters to approve a modernization bond is a big step for a school district. CUSD has not asked voters for a bond in living memory, but the District Board is considering taking that step to update facilities and improve efficiency.
Imagine walking into a place of business that has not been remodeled or modernized in over 30 years. In the case of CUSD, some of our buildings have not had major renovations for nearly five decades. Think about stepping into the working space of a professional like a doctor or dentist. How would you feel if those professionals were working in spaces which obviously had not been updated for many years? Would you be comfortable watching your dentist pull out a 1960's vintage drill? No matter how clean or well maintained, business spaces — particularly professional offices — require periodic modernization.
The same goes for school facilities. Schools built in the 60s, 70s and 80s were not designed for the kinds of technological learning tools we use today. Schools which invest in facilities almost always see academic improvements because operational efficiency gains free up funds for use in the classrooms with the students.
That is a fancy way of saying that if we have to spend less on electricity to run air conditioners, we can spend more on hiring teachers and buying materials and technology for student use. Some recent reports show air conditioners have become 40 percent more efficient in the last decade, and CUSD has many units that are twenty to thirty years old.
There is also the matter of safety and security upgrades. Our schools were built in a time when tragedies like Sandy Hook and Columbine were unimaginable. Now, we regularly plan and drill for just such horrific possibilities. An upgraded security system would help deter criminals, and speed the response of emergency responders should the unthinkable happen.
A bond is a link or a joining, and school bonds are a form of investment borrowing commonly used for school facilities projects. But in reality a school district bond is both a link and investment. A school bond links the taxpayers of today with children currently in the system, and invests in future students. A well thought-out and properly managed modernization project can help cut costs for the district and improve student learning.
As a first step in the process of seeking a bond, CUSD has hired a polling firm to gather public input. During the week of January 17th, that polling firm, GBA Co., will be calling registered voters to gather their thoughts about the need for a modernization bond, and to assess community support for a bond. If you get a call from GBA, please do not ignore it or hang up. A school system reflects the vision of the community, and we can only do that well if we have input from our community members. The district will also be holding community meetings on the bond issue, as well as discussions in the regularly scheduled board meetings.
– Dwayne K. Newman is superintendent of Colusa Unified School District.