BT, Thank you for the opportunity to clarify my positions. Let me start by agreeing with you that I will always simply side with parents because I know they will put their kids' interests above all others. You may think I am just politicing for votes but I'm not doing anything different than what I have been doing for five years. I have promised whether I am elected or not I won't change my focus and I haven't been doing anything new since I decided to run for office. If you like the way things are in BUSD or you don't feel I am the best choice to represent our kids, don't vote for me...you won't be alone.
Early on I did make specific suggestions that no one wanted to listen to. I agreed we needed a new stadium but I suggested they scale back the scope of the project to $8 mil which would still make it the most expensive stadium in the area. I suggested an alternative site for the district office but I also argued, if they were determined to build the new site, they do away with the board room, walk a few hundred yards to the high school and hold their meetings in the new state of the art theater. If I am elected, I don't know if I will ever be comfortable sitting in the 600 seat board room.
I agree it will be an advantage to have all the departments in one location but I, along with others, specifically suggested this could be done at the Chavez Elementary school site for now and later, when all the critical facilities were in place, they could revisit the district office upgrade. I didn't live hear at the time, but I believe the Water District's lavish office building wasn't well received and created quite a stir at the time. I have heard from many in Beaumont this fiasco led to a lot of hard feelings between the public and the agency and many people lost their positions.
Let me give you an example of how costs at the new district office could have been minimized. Each of the assistant superintendent's new corner offices will have an external door. This may seem appropriate but a construction expert, which I am not, told me the cost to add a door to an external wall is significant. I heard Bogh Engineering even counseled the district about many ways they could reduce the scope and the cost of the new building but the district wasn't listening.
We have been told by the district we will need a new high school in five years and they have to start working on this now. We were also told it would cost at least $50 mil, probably closer to $70 mil. The district has provided no specifics on how they will come up with money. There is relatively little of the proceeds from the first two rounds of Measure Z bond sales left and the remaining two sales may not cover the cost of the new high school. This means they will be coming back for more property tax money and I'm not sure how much more we can squeeze out of homeowners, even if they are willing to vote for another large commitment.
Now, regarding Tournament Hills. I haven't provided any specifics to the solution there because I'm not an expert, or even very familiar, on all the issues at Tournament Hills. However, I am very familiar with a similar situation at my kids' school, Brookside. I have offered many specific solutions at site council meetings and face to face meetings with the Brookside principals and the last two Assistant Superintendents responsible for the facilities department.
The district presented a similar plan at Brookside but I pointed out to the district's facilities manager, Mrs. Gunderson, that adding additional spaces without solving the traffic and safety issues first was irresponsible and that any plan should be designed with significant input from all the school's parents. I suggested an evening meeting to solicit suggestions from parents about how to address the traffic flow patterns. Mrs. Gunderson and the Principal Goode agreed this was a good idea and would take the proposal back to Mr. Elatar. That was the last we heard about involving parents.
When I followed up with Mr. Elatar, he told me no proposal was ever made and Mrs. Gunderson never discussed my suggestion with him.He told me he would take the original plan to the board for approval and let them decide how to proceed. When I later followed up with the board, they admitted no plan had ever been submitted for approval by Mr. Elatar. I was told they were going to leave the Brookside plans on the table and they hoped the new district office and stadium projects would magically fix the problem...I added the word "magically".
The term "idiot proof" is a common term used in business when designing systems. My Dad taught me this 30 years ago when I worked for him managing restaurants. It means you design a system that leaves no option for a mistake - or, in the parking lot solution - no path is available that isn't the safest for our kids. I wasn't referring to any one as an idiot, just a plan that provides too many unsafe options.
While canvassing neighborhoods, I have spoken to many Tournament Hills parents who want their school safe. Many of these parents have good ideas how to fix the problem. It would be better for them to be offering specific solutions than I. I learned from the Brookside situation the district isn't interested in hearing parent solutions. Their idea of consulting parents is to first design a plan and present it for approval; when parents object and want more involvement, kill the plan.
Anyone who has been following me for any length of time, knows I don't just complain and criticize, I always offer specific solutions. If you want to learn more about the solutions I have offered, please visit my website OurFocusOurKids.com.
BT, I hope I addressed all you concerns. If not, or if you are unable to find the answers on my site, just post another comment on the Patch and I will be happy to respond.
Thank you for your interest in my campaign. I believed you have helped me connect with many more voters.