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Tuesday, Sep 26, 2023

Bonding Schools and Business

In a little more than two weeks, residents in the Poway Unified School District will be asked to approve Proposition A, a special election that seeks $149 million to improve and enhance facilities and education.

It should come as no surprise that we would heartily endorse this measure, which goes before voters Nov. 2. It is the latest in a parade of school bond issues to march across the electoral landscape.

A year ago we urged residents in the San Diego Unified School District to vote yes on Proposition MM, a $1 billion bond measure. Similarly, we encouraged voters in Coronado and Lemon Grove to also approve school bond measures. And earlier this year we endorsed Vista Unified’s attempt to pass a school bond.

We endorse these measures not because we like to see already cash-strapped families burdened with more taxes. Nor do we support school bonds because we are trying to be community cheerleaders.

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No, we urge voter support because, like our fellow business leaders here and across the nation, we, too, see the direct link between education and business. We also realize that for too long we have let our schools wallow in mediocrity, content with subpar test scores and languishing facilities. The result: We are losing our intellectural and industrial edge.

Though Poway Unified is among the state’s most progressive and prestigious districts, it has suffered through several decades of neglect. A $66 million bond issue was narrowly defeated in 1989. It sounds simple, but it’s true: To maintain its high academic standards, the infrastructure must be in place.

The lingering effects of Proposition 13 and the mass migration to California are only partly to blame. Yes, Prop. 13 came along at a time when tax reform was sorely needed in this state. But the short-term fix didn’t take into account what would happen as the state’s population exploded over the course of the next two decades.

In Poway, for example, new schools couldn’t be built fast enough. Trailers were planted on playgrounds and acted as entire campuses for up to a year as students, parents and administrators awaited new schools to be finished. Students at Poway High School suffered through double sessions as the campus also was used for the then-unbuilt Rancho Bernardo High School.

The 1980s and ’90s took its toll on Poway’s campuses, and it shows. Many of the district’s schools are aging quickly. Poway High is pushing 40, while one elementary school this year celebrates its 75th anniversary.

The face of our business community is changing before our very eyes, as the boom in dot-com companies reveal a transformation not unlike the Industrial Revolution. While the three R’s will never change, our children’s classrooms must keep pace with the needs of our business world.

A yes vote on Proposition A will go a long way to ensure the students of the Poway Unified School District

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