After last November’s resounding defeat of nearly all school bond measures, we have some firsthand account of board reactions because of committed community members willing to serve as watchdogs or oversight advocates.
Here’s what your should know according to Rich Davis:
Hope this email finds you well. I apologize for this lengthy email.
As much as the public was lead to believe that the project of building a STEM High School at UCR on the corner of Baine and Canyon Crest was over, behind closed doors the RUSD and UCR have been moving forward with the project.
Board directive on May 5, 2020 stated…The STEM High School at UCR has had a few challenges that are delaying the design and approval process; therefore, the board of education has directed staff to move other prioritized projects from Measure O ahead of schedule in order to stay compliant with IRS regulations for the prompt expenditures of bond funds. We will resume the “planning “ for STEM High School project as state facility funds are received.
- Why the directive? Elections. Many community members now feel this directive was simply a political ploy. In May, then Trustee Lock-Dawson was running for mayor and Trustees Hunt and Farooq’s were campaigning for reelection. Because of the controversies over the STEM project and questioning the spending of Measure O, these politicians did not want these hot topics to be campaign issues for them. As soon as the Nov elections were over, with trustees Hunt and Farooq reelections, RUSD and UCR met in January to strategize moving the project forward. Evidence that the directive was a political ploy.
- No state facility funds: The directive states the project will resume as state funding is received. There hasn’t been state facility funding for some time. In the Nov elections, the voters of CA defeated Prop 13 (school funding), so there will be no state facility funding until another proposition is placed on the ballot and passes perhaps in 2024. If state funding has not been received, then the board is violating their own directive. Evidence that the directive was a political ploy.
- In a League of United Latino American Citizen (LULAC) zoom meeting this summer, then Pres Kathy Allavie was questioned about the directive and rumors that RUSD and UCR was still moving forward with the project. As president of RUSD board, Allavie strongly and loudly stated STEM project is dead. However, after the election, during the January board operation subcommittee, Trustee Allavie reminded district managers that the STEM High School at UCR is still the district’s #1 priority. Evidence that the directive was a political ploy.
- Measure O funding: The board approved spending $35 million dollars of Measure O for the $60 million dollar project in hopes that the remaining $25 million would come from state funding. With no state funding, the board’s plan from the very start was to bank the $35 million Measure O funding until future funding was available. The additional $25 million dollars needed will have to come from the board asking us to vote for another local bond measure being talked about in 2022 or the passing of a state proposition perhaps in 2024. In the meantime, because STEM High School at UCR continues to be the board’s #1 priority, the $35 million dollar banked from Measure O money will just sit there instead of helping our children who now must sit in deplorable classrooms.
- Thursday, March 18 Board Meeting: The board will be discussing STEM High School at UCR and will then vote whether to move the project forward. If the board approves the project, UCR, by court order, must hold its last community meeting perhaps sometime in April. How UCR will conduct this community meeting due to COVID restrictions is unclear. In the last three in-person community meetings held, hundreds of community members, including UCR students, attended voicing strong opposition. Again, because of COVID restrictions, board meetings have been done through Zoom on the internet. In the coming days, information will be sent with instructions on how to participate in the board meeting.
Please share this email to friends and neighbors.
- I thought the zoom meeting for a STEM parents was well presented. Starting March 5, they will begin their campaign by getting people to sign a petition, write letters and emails to the school board, speak either in person or on zoom.
- Not only a high school but they are really pushing that it is a STEM Center where students from all over can come and explore.
- Because RUSD has received a $1.5M career tech grant from the state for STEM, the school should be built.
- Most important message when contacting the board is getting CEQA done and no more delays
- Fields on Blaine/Canyon Crest aren’t used much
- Stated that they are not against STEM for everyone, but feel there are specials kids that need a special place to learn.
- Reported that at the last UCR community 66 people voiced in favor of the school, while 25 people spoke out against it.
- The fields on Blaine and Canyon Crest are not used much, only a ten minute walk to labs, students are already walking that far.
- 3 story school to built for 800 students
- With decreasing enrollment, this project will bring needed students to RUSD
- Only big opposition is the use of Measure O funds to build the school; stated two bond lawyers have given approval.
- When a caller asked what other issues are used to oppose the school, the moderator couldn’t/wouldn’t respond, simply replied we have to stay positive.
- Moderator shared how wonderful it will be for their students to be on the UCR campus and sit at the Cafe Bean
- If board votes to move forward with the project, UCR has tentatively set April 21.