Commentary: Measure N deserves a 'Y' vote

The Fountain Valley School District is asking its community to support Measure N, the Fountain Valley School District Technology Endowment Initiative on the Nov. 6 ballot.

It is the first time the board of trustees has asked its constituency to support a tax bond measure for our schools. We have used surplus site-sale funds to meet our state match for modernization. We have avoided going to taxpayers over the years to support infrastructure improvements and have sought alternative means to keep our schools competitive with other districts that earn higher revenue limits from the state.

Fountain Valley has once again outperformed every other elementary school district in the county academically on the recent STAR state assessments. We place fourth out of 28 school districts, and we are sought out as a district of choice by parents seeking inter-district transfers from neighboring school districts. However, our classrooms now fall well behind many of the most-competitive districts in student and teacher access to technology.

Because of the severe cuts to education from Sacramento, we have had to eliminate our general fund support of technology and, as a result, find that our five-year-old computers, which in most cases occupy only the teacher desk, are failing at nearly 14% per year. Students typically are able to access the Internet only about 30-45 minutes per day. Most classrooms have no Smart Board technology, and students find themselves leaving a home that is connected to the World Wide Web 24 hours, seven days per week to enter a classroom in which they look at a whiteboard, are taught via an overhead projector and share a computer with 12 other students.

The Fountain Valley School District is preparing to implement the newly adopted, internationally benchmarked common core standards and soon will administer authentic assessments conducted by "smarter balance technology," which will require online testing. While other school districts such as Irvine, Los Alamitos, Placentia, Laguna Beach and Saddleback Valley have begun to transform their classrooms into 21st-century learning environments, Fountain Valley students leave the intellectual light of their everyday lives behind in their homes and enter our classrooms with no mobile devices, no laptops and no open Internet. Rather, they continue to learn from basal readers, spend valuable learning time practicing cursive handwriting and use old textbooks and outdated equipment.

Fountain Valley has always been a sought-after location for future homebuyers. Many of us bought homes here because of our schools. However, a new generation of parents seeks schools that offer programming, multimedia literacy, astronautics, bioethics and nanotechnology. Our students could be collaborating around the world electronically. This type of change in our classrooms would build upon the reputation of our school district and reinvigorate Fountain Valley as a premier city that invests in the future of its students.

Measure N begins that investment not only for the benefit of our children but for the quality and desirability of our neighborhoods. There are several tax measures to decide upon on the November ballot. Measure N would keep your tax dollars right here in our community, and its use would be closely monitored by a citizens oversight committee. As parents, we invest in our children. As grandparents, we invest in our families. As citizens in our community, I ask that you consider the quality of your life by investing in your schools, which will indeed preserve the future for us all.

MARC ECKER is the superintendent of the Fountain Valley School District.

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