Proposition 203 an Investment in Future

There is not a better investment in our future than investing in our youth. Proposition 203, the school bond measure on the March 26 ballot, provides us an opportunity to do just that.

Proposition 203 will fund critical repairs to existing schools, build needed schools and classrooms, improve seismic safety in our children's classrooms, and wire classrooms for computers and other technology to provide our children access to the information age. These improvements will be seen in K-12 schools as well as our community colleges and public universities.

Among K-12 school districts in Ventura County, $10.9 million in new construction and $86.2 million in modernization projects are approved, but no funds exist in state coffers for them. Our community colleges are equally in need of repairs and expansion. Additionally, the prospects for our new public university in Ventura County rest firmly on passage of this school bond.

California's classrooms are the most crowded in the entire nation--more than one-third higher than the national average. More than 140,000 new students show up each year at schoolhouse doors throughout the state. Many existing schools are in incredibly poor shape, as more than half of the state's schools are more than 30 years old. Our children are last in the nation when it comes to access to computers and school libraries. These facts are exacerbated by 10 years of declining purchasing power in education due to decreased per-pupil funding in "real" (after-inflation) dollars.

Our growth, access to technology and school aging trends in Ventura County parallel the state. In the last several years, class size in Ventura County's K-12 classes has risen steadily and is now at unacceptable levels for high-quality teaching and provision of individual student attention. Our Ventura County student population grew by 15.6% or 16,281 students in the last 10 years, requiring about 543 classrooms. The need for investing in public schools in Ventura County is evident.

According to experts, passage of this school bond will not jeopardize California's debt level and it will not raise taxes. The bond revenues will create an estimated 86,000 construction jobs in California, which will in turn stimulate economic growth in businesses that serve the construction trades.

Proposition 203 is supported by the California Chamber of Commerce, California Business Round Table, League of Women Voters of California, Congress of California Seniors, California Teachers Assn., California State PTA, Assn. of California School Administrators, California Labor Federation AFL-CIO, and a host of other business, political, educational, religious and community leaders. It is supported locally by education leaders and many community leaders, including the Ventura County Taxpayers Assn. and the Ventura County Board of Supervisors.

CHARLES WEIS

Ventura County superintendent of schools

Moorpark

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