As our students thrive, our community thrives, says former MHUSD board trustee
By Ron Woolf
Voters in the Morgan Hill Unified School District will soon have the opportunity to show their support for local schools by approving a bond issue March 5, 2020. Many school districts are now faced with financial challenges. The biggest challenge locally is our aging schools. Secondly, our students must be college and career ready and being housed in facilities that provide the best learning conditions goes a long way toward achieving that goal.
The school board, employees, teachers, administrators, and community members have reviewed all facilities in the district with these goals in mind that will result in sound building structures, longevity, safety and growth.
Student safety is of the utmost importance. We should put student and staff safety as our highest priority. Students and school employees should be in buildings that will stand the test of time, earthquakes, or whatever else may occur.
As a former member of the MHUSD board of trustees, I recall developing the master plan that was completed in September 2017. From that plan, and with much public and board discussion and forethought, the current board of trustees voted in November 2019 to put the bond on the ballot for March 3, 2020.
We have more than 9,000 students in our district from pre-kindergarten through adult education.
With the funds from the bond, the school board will replace and repair all aspects of our 14 school sites, upgrade our facilities for science, technology, engineering, and math programs, as well as vocational and career education programs.
We need to recruit and retain our teaching staffs by having appealing and modern facilities. As I stated, safety is the key issue.
We need upgraded fire alarms, sprinklers, security systems, and add fencing and lighting. Our facilities need to be modernized to provide for the best access for computer technology and improved Internet access.
In addition, all of our athletic facilities need to be improved and updated as well as the parking access to those areas.
Overall, the infrastructure needs to be improved to increase energy efficiency.
There is no doubt students and teachers perform better in safe schools.
Recruiting new teachers who want to work in modern facilities is a key factor in many districts, ours included. All of the schools in the district will benefit from the monies raised through the bond issue. The immediate focus will be on those facilities with the most critical need. Once the bonds are approved, the district will develop a schedule for funding projects on time.
In the past seven years, we have seen bond issues pass in the following Santa Clara County school districts: Alum Rock, San Jose Unified and Santa Clara Unified. We need to join them.
The monies from the bond issue will stay in MHUSD. Our last bond issue was passed in 2012. We have all seen the improvements in our school sites in the past seven years, including the renovated Britton Middle School.
The bond will require a passage rate of 55 percent of voters. After passage, there will be an annual independent financial and performance audits on how the funds are spent. A citizens oversight committee will be formed to help oversee how expenditures are made.
This is an opportunity we have to demonstrate a strong financial commitment to sustaining outstanding schools and a thriving community.
As our students thrive, our community thrives. I am confident that the investment we make in our schools today will pay off in the future.
I urge all voters living in the Morgan Hill Unified School District to take the time to show their support to ensure the bond is passed.
Let us give the district the finances they need to repair buildings and make much needed site improvements for our students and everyone involved in the educational process.
Ron Woolf is a former member of the Morgan Hill Unified School District board of trustees and a board member of the Mushroom Mardi Gras. He wrote this column for Morgan Hill Life.