New thinking for CCUSD

By Will Wreight | October 22, 2008

We need new thinking on CCUSD's governing board. Of the seven candidates running now for the three seats on the board, three are current, or past, members of the governing board: Javier Ledesma, Cassandra Perkins and Mark Warren.

It appears that these individuals may have been out-of-touch with many thousands in the taxpaying electorate. In recent years, the governing board has focused on buildings, lap-top computers and swimming pools rather than focusing on the curriculum that students need to succeed. The CCUSD education establishment needs to make the most of the plant and equipment they have and fix up what is needed to keep the schools safe for children.

In past years, CCUSD's board has consistently recommended bonds, overrides, annexation questions and cultural center development to the electorate. The voters, just as consistently, said "No." During these years, Javier Ledesma, Cassandra Perkins and Mark Warren, have been among the strongest proponents of several of these proposed measures.

Consider the CCUSD elections last fall, when the governing board requested $123 million in new bonds (including funds for a "Taj Mahal" high school and tens of millions of dollars for 'contingencies') as well as a $32 million capital override (including funds for thousands of laptop computers). Javier Ledesma, then President of the governing board, was a major proponent of these measures. Cassandra Perkins, then President of the Christopher Verde school district governing board, strongly urged voters to approve these measures in her letter included in the CCUSD Voter Information Pamphlet. The two ballot questions were rejected by the voters.

Two years earlier, CCUSD's governing board requested $5 million in new bonds for swimming pools, $16 million capital override for furniture, equipment and minor construction projects and permission to plan/develop a cultural center on the north campus. A major supporter was Mark Warren, then President of the CCUSD governing board; Javier Ledesma, then a member of the governing board, also urged voters to approve these ballot questions. All three measures were defeated by the voters.

Before that, the CCUSD governing board asked for $15 million in new bonds (including funds for a new district office building), $19 million in capital overrides (most of which would be spent for computer hardware/software) and annexation of the unorganized territories. Mark Warren, a major supporter of these measures, was then a member of the CCUSD governing board. District voters overwhelmingly rejected these ballot questions, especially the annexation question (large majorities of both CCUSD and unorganized territory voters defeated this measure).

Taxpayers will continue to vote "No" on ballot questions until reasonable and necessary items are presented to them; the voters are unwilling to finance grandiose projects.
It is time to think anew and let those people, whose life experience has given them the skills to properly evaluate ideas, join the board. The taxpayer needs candidates who are independent and who will question various alternatives until satisfactory answers are found. And, as to the rubric that new board members need to have children in CCUSD schools, this is immaterial. The governing board needs administrative and financial skills to assure efficient use of taxpayer money to achieve optimal children's' education.