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‘The Passage Was a Cumulative Effort’

Help for the leaking roofs, inadequate wiring, broken plumbing--the whole crumbling infrastructure of Los Angeles schools--came in the form of passage Tuesday of Proposition BB which approved $2.4 billion in bonds for repair and upgrading. JIM BLAIR spoke with LAUSD teachers and administrators about their reaction.

ROBERT EISEMAN Science teacher, University High School

When I arrived at school the day after the election, one of the senior teachers was walking toward me and the first thing he said to me was, “Ready to paint?”

I am very happy that the public sees that there’s a need to improve the infrastructure of our school system. Among the things I’d like to see repaired would be the obsolete lighting, the fire alarm system, the dry rot damage, the hot and cold water lines, the damaged gym floor.

I think the passage of BB was a cumulative effort by students, teachers, parents, the media and the message getting out from all of these groups that the schools are in serious need of repair and that to fulfill the needs of our future through education we need to address these problems today.

JEFFREY ALPERT

Special education teacher, Hollywood High School

The first thing I did the day after the election was to turn the television on at 5:30 a.m. I was elated to see that the people of Los Angeles, at least those several hundred thousand who bothered to get out and vote, had made the decision to put education high on the priority list of civic obligations.

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There were many opportunities for everyone [who] felt motivated to work for the bond measure to offer their services; but most of the work [on behalf of the proposition] at Hollywood High School was done by students [working] telephone banks, attending rallies and walking the precincts--political activism totally generated by their interest and concern in bettering the environment of their school. Most of these kids won’t be here when these improvements are made. They did it for their little brothers and sisters and their friends.

DIANA CUTTER

Member of the Professional Development Collaborative, LAUSD. Former teacher, Loreto Street Elementary

The first thing I thought of when I heard that it passed was that [former UTLA president] Helen Bernstein [who was struck and killed by a car] would have been so happy and that our schools can now, finally, get some things fixed. I thought about my classroom at Loreto where the ceiling leaks, the playground that is just in terrible shape. Those things will now be able to happen.

The morning after the election a group of us, including UTLA people and people who had loved Helen dearly, talked about how working for the passage of Proposition BB had been a collaborative effort this time, that UTLA really was involved with the district in trying to make this happen, to get the message out that the schools are desperately in need of repair.

Infrastructure needs to be taken care of on an ongoing basis. We need to make sure that the fixing and upgrading of the buildings does not return to the back burner again.

JIM BLACKWOOD

Social studies teacher, Venice High School

I am ecstatic. I grew up in the Los Angeles School District at a time when the district never lost a bond issue. And since I’ve been teaching--over 33 years--we’ve never passed any that I can remember. I think it shows that we’re regaining some public confidence.

At Venice, the first thing we need is to repair the leaking roofs. Second, we need to modernize our communication system so that every teacher in the school feels safe and secure.

RUSS THOMPSON

Principal, Van Nuys High School

When I heard that it had passed, I was very, very relieved. At Van Nuys High School, this is going to mean new roofs and air conditioning in 48 of our classrooms. We have plans on the drawing board to begin very soon. It’s also going to mean an alarm system and upgraded wiring so that we can add computers. These are badly needed improvements that are going to directly benefit our kids. They deserve the best education and facilities that we can give them. I really appreciate the support of the voters.

FLOYD WORSHAM

Teacher, Samuel Gompers Middle School

Iam elated it has passed. We need the resources, so it’s a good sign that people in Los Angeles want quality education.

People are beginning to recognize that we’re looking at the fruits of Proposition 13 and it’s time for us make some corrections.

Gompers is an old school, built in 1937. We have virtually no communications from room to room or from room to office. Nor do we have electrical outlets. In 1937, there were very few things that were run electrically. We need air conditioning. Most of our buildings are steam heated and sometimes on a cold day the heat doesn’t get up until 11 a.m. and then when it gets up it’s uncontrollable.


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