Dear Editor: I have been a Downey resident since 1968 and both of my children attended Downey public schools, kindergarten through 12th grade.
I am a retired career public educator, having served as a teacher, counselor, principal and, for my last 15 years, as the superintendent of a local public school district. That district passed two bond measures during my tenure with tremendous community support. The proceeds of those bond measures allowed us to make the schools something the students, teachers and residents were exceedingly proud of.
The quality of the local schools is a testament to the importance the community places on the education of its children. In fact, the public schools are the fabric of our society.
It is obvious that quality education comes at a cost. I own two residences in Downey so I am well aware of the property tax impact that Measure O will have on me personally. I am happy to pay it. I see it as part of my civic responsibility.
I take issue with a number of Mr. Wilson’s statements in his letter to the editor published Oct. 23. He states that the tax impact cannot be found in the sample ballot booklet. He must have been reading a different one than me, because I did not have any trouble locating that information. Later he mentions “the bureaucratic mismanagement of the existing DUSD budget” without providing any substantiation for that claim. Rather, during my own experience in the public education sector, Downey USD was admired by surrounding districts for its ability to provide excellent academic programs, and competitive salaries for employees, while maintaining sound budgeting principals.
Lastly, Mr. Wilson claims to “want what’s best for children.” That statement does not comport with his letter or his position on this proposition.
I sincerely hope Downey voters do the right thing and support our schools, by voting Yes on O.
Bruce McDaniel, Ed.D. Downey
I totally agree with the letters in the Oct. 23 Patriot about voting no on Measure O. It is, indeed, definitely the time for voters to indicate they are not so willing to enlarge the trough with increased taxes.
Asking for this $248 million bond issue smacks of a cavalier attitude at best toward Downey homeowners and others who pay property taxes. I wonder if DUSD hired one of the consultant firms who specialize in packaging, promoting and marketing bond measures for schools.
Either way, they have not convinced me they need $248 million. (If they did hire a consultant firm, I wonder what they paid, hopefully not the same rates they pay retired teachers brought back as subs). They have rolled out all the standard slogans and yard signs, relying on the standard knee-jerk reactions to “we just want the best for our kids…”
Students coming in to Downey from other cities has been going on for as long as I can remember. I recall at one time DUSD handed out flyers encouraging enrollment of students whose parents or relatives worked in Downey. The common (or maybe not so common) knowledge was that the district received State funds based on the number of filled seats. The schools well know they have a population from outside of Downey. They just look the other way. How about having out-of-city students pay an out of city fee to support the costs associated with the bonds?
In one of the corporations I worked for, there was a sign on an associate’s door that said “Lack of planning and foresight on your part does not automatically constitute an emergency on my part.” How appropriate for DUSD and Measure O. Are the schools just now getting around to fixing the leaky roofs and earthquake retrofits? Preparing students for the 21st century? Shouldn’t they have been doing that for the past 15 years? Stronger college and university preparation for all students? Is part of the $248 million needed for that? Or is that mainly a change in organization and protocol?
A good part of the DUSD shopping list contains similar platitudes and generalities to round out the appeal. Has all this been put out there based on advice from the bond consultants? How did they come up with a figure of $248 million? Once the property tax goes on to pay for the bonds, chances it will ever be removed are slim to none.
Running a school district is a complex and challenging responsibility; we can appreciate that. I am sure I am not alone in appreciating the dedicated and passionate teachers. Should the DUSD mission, however, include providing full-time nursery services? Allow the waste of food?
DUSD needs to put on their thinking caps to figure out where to cut the waste and better manage the funds we are already giving them.
Also saying No to O.
David Coppell Downey
We are 50-year residents of Downey, and all five of our children attended Downey schools, where they received a high quality education. Although our children have graduated, we still appreciate Downey’s great schools because they are the backbone of our entire community.
We have done our homework and investigated the costs and benefits of Measure O, and appreciate the hard work the DUSD has done to make the right decisions for our community and schools. All Measure O funds stay local to support Downey schools.
We support Measure O because we know our schools’ great reputation helps protect the value of our home and helps strengthen the quality of life in our community. Ensuring that all local students learn in safe, up-to-date schools is a smart investment for all of us.
Please join us on Tuesday in voting Yes on Measure O.
Larry and Margery Lewis Downey
Downey Unified’s school system is very good. I will show my support by voting yes on Measure O.
Please join me and vote yes on Measure O.
Dr. Mary R. Stauffer Downey
When my husband and I were looking for a place to raise our family, Downey’s great schools were a top draw to the area. Our children receive a high-quality education that is preparing them for college and future success.
I support Measure O because it will make repairs to ensure we continue to keep students safe, and provide updated classrooms, labs and technology to prepare students for today’s careers. Overall, I am impressed by the work and thoughtfulness that has gone into this measure, and have decided to vote Yes.
Downey’s schools are an asset to our community that we can all be proud of. Please join me in voting YES on Measure O to ensure that all our children continue to receive the great education they deserve.
Beth Gendreau Downey
I’m in complete agreement with Paul Wilson and George and JoAnn Resetar regarding Measure O. Why is it always the homeowner who pays?
This isn’t a one-year tax on our homes, it is a 30-year tax. It’s high time the schools and government offices realize that rather than increase taxes, they need to start downsizing.
As mentioned in the Resetars’ letter, maybe the nursery school should go back to part-time. When did we ever get to the place in the U.S. that the government should be responsible for babysitting, since it is shown that even those in preschool show no better achievement by the third grade than those who haven’t attended. It’s just another ill-conceived government program to have control and buy votes.
Maybe the tax should be put on people who have children in school. Let’s share the cost.
Vote No on Measure O.
Marilyn Madru Downey
As a homeowner that supported a $1 billion school bond for Long Beach Unified School District, I think many Downey residents are missing several important points.
First, Measure O will help fund classroom improvements that will not only keep our educational environment up to par, but will create an environment that will keep the youth in our community competitive. The level and quality of education a student receives in Downey will continue to demystify the idea that a private school education is the only quality education a student can receive. Creating assertive and articulate individuals with a driven sense of knowledge and exposure will only continue to strengthen the culture and community in Downey.
Aside from improving our schools, which are the oldest buildings in our community, Measure O will help to attract other potential homebuyers that want their children to attend updated schools, and to receive an education appropriate for today’s ever changing world that we live in. Additionally, our community will see higher housing prices along with higher rents because of this.
Ask yourself, why did you pay more to buy a house in this community as opposed to one in a nearby surrounding community for substantially less? I’m sure that a big part of your reason could be tied to the Downey Unified School District’s reputation for outstanding schools. Clearly there is a direct correlation between property values, community values, and schools. You don’t have to go far to see this. Just look at the surrounding communities where property values are substantially lower and crime is substantially higher.
So now when you think of paying $60 dollars more, per one hundred thousand dollars of assessed value, which amounts to $150-$300 dollars per year for most homeowners, I think you have to agree that Measure O is a small price to pay to support your community.
I hope you will see that not only will it provide for a 21st Century education for today’s students in our community but it will also provide a hefty return to your property in the form of higher values.
Jim Mogan Downey
I received yet another propaganda flyer today for Measure O...paid for by some figurehead organization of the DUSD, the “Committee for Outstanding Schools.”
I just can’t let this go. Nowhere do they describe the tax hit to Downey citizens, and we’re being set up for another 30 years of a heavy tax increase.
Keep in mind that DUSD is asking for a huge amount this time – $248 million, and before you blindly pull the yes lever, you should be asking, “Is there really a ‘hair on fire’ need for this money today? Was there some catastrophic event that’s driving this need – today? Wasn’t this work already done under the previous two bond measures?” It should have been, since that was the way they were packaged and sold to Downey citizens back in 2002 and 1996.
Here’s a solution: Perhaps we could take a minute, come in from off the ledge and ask whether this requested maintenance can be performed piecemeal – year over year within the boundaries of current and future DUSD budgets. Or maybe they can dip into their “healthy financial reserve” that a recent Downey Association of Realtors magazine article alludes to?
Of course there are in-house solutions, but it‘s easier for DUSD to ask for a homeowner tax than to do some priority juggling within their existing budget. The occasional DUSD boondoggle or the lavish Christmas party are not sacred cows. Their budget can absolutely be restructured, but it’s easier for DUSD to tax apathetic and uninformed voters.
Do we really want to be the DUSD’s personal ATM?
Bottom line is that we all have to live within our means. And we need to make DUSD do the same. I have complete confidence that they can roll up their sleeves and do it.
Don’t volunteer for more taxes.
Paul Wilson Downey
As a teacher at Griffiths Middle School in Downey, I am proud of the excellent education we provide for our students. In recent years, test scores for local students have continued to rise, and many of our schools have won state and nationall awards.
However, even as our students continue to excel, some of our schools were built in the 1950s and require repairs and updates. While some schools have been updated in recent years, many have not.
It is clear to many of us, our Downey schools require updates to classrooms, labs and instructional technology so ALL students have the opportunities to obtain the math and science skills necessary to succeed today.
That is why I’m asking you to please join me and vote YES on Measure O to ensure all Downey students continue to have the opportunity to learn in safe, up-to-date classrooms that prepare them for their futures.
Julie Romero Griffiths Middle School
Published: Oct. 30, 2014 - Volume 13 - Issue 29