You haven’t heard much about Peralta lately so here are a few updates. There has been much going on behind the scenes and a few things that need to be shared.
1. Most likely, there will be a vote at the next OUSD School board Meeting to stop the Fairfield plan. However, attached to it will most likely be an item that all surplus properties has to be sold. The next OUSD School Board meeting is on Thursday October 24 at 7:00 pm. No agenda has been posted More information will be available at this site: http://www.orangeusd.k12.ca.us/board/calendar.asp
2. A group of local business people are working on a school bond measure in OUSD. Their intentions are good – they want to pass a bond to improve all of the high schools in the district. This group has received input from Tim Surridge and Rick Lesdesma. They are trying to get all of the school board members to back their plan. Their plan includes the necessity to sell all surplus properties and they want to get it on the ballot quickly- at the November 2014 election. That is the same election where the school board positions held by Tim Surridge, Rick Ledesma, Diane Singer, and Kathy Moffat will be on the ballot. Kathy Moffat and Diane Singer are strongly in favor of passing a school bond. However, they have voiced their concerns about moving too quickly and things tied to this bond measure. They feel that the surplus property is a separate issue and needs to be separate from the bond.
School Bond Proposal from local business group:
There is a proposal for a school bond being put together by a group of local business people. They strongly want out neighborhood to back them. There are lots og good reasons to back a bond bond but there are a few points where our neighborhood probably will strongly disagree with them.
1. They think we have the victory on the Peralta property and need to put all of that aside and join with them to back this bond proposal. We are bad winners if we don’t. Our neighborhood doesn’t claim any victory yet. There has been no vote. From past experience, we know we can’t trust the part of the board that has backed the Fairfield development . Most likely it won’t be a clean vote. They will attach the sale of all surplus property to the vote and it may change how we view the vote. We will see what happens….?
2. They are in a huge hurry to get this measure on the ballot in November. They think interest rates will go up. They think it is irresponsible of us not to join their effort immediately because if the interest rate goes up, the bond cost could be more. Our neighbors have seen there are more important things that need to be done first. The majority of voters will not be influenced by the interest rate as a reason to vote for the a bond in a hurry. They have tried to pass two other OUSD school bonds in the past. Does anyone know the interest rate from those bonds? Did it make a difference in your decision to vote for or against it?
3. The motivation to move forward quickly is probably for a different reason. Most likely, Mr.Surridge and Mr.Ledesma are trying to appease the developers that backed them- once again- and not our neighborhood. They finally realize that there is too much opposition to the Fairfield plan to get it passed. So they are trying to get all of the surplus property sold and get the bond through quickly so that their developer friends will have other potential opportunities in our district. They hope that will make their developers support them again at the next election.
4. They say there is momentum in the community now to get a bond passed. They overlook where that momentum came from– our neighborhood and the extended OUSD community that has joined us to fight this horrible development at Peralta. People have been going to school board meetings. People know the names of school board members. People know who they like and dislike on the board. People see the dysfunction on the board and don’t like it. When was the last time there was a school board election that you really knew the candidates and made a responsible selection? Unfortunately, for most people that may be never. People often skip that vote or randomly select a candidate. I don’t think that will happen at the next election -thanks to our neighborhood. Many neighbors can’t wait to vote. They know who they will not vote for and who they will actively support with campaign contributions and spreading information to friends and neighbors.
Most people win our neighborhood who have been following the school board think these things need to happen before they would vote for a bond:
1. First, we need to focus on the November 2014 OUSD School board election and vote in a school board we can trust. That means finding some good candidates who want to do what is right for education and our community – not indebted to developers. We need to actively work to vote out some members and actively support others. That needs to be our focus before a school bond is on the ballot. We need to use the momentum created by our neighborhood to do something good for OUSD – get a strong, respected school board elected that will make responsible decisions.
2. The surplus property needs to be separated from both the Fairfield vote and the bond measure. They are all separate. Each surplus property has different issues. They need to be evaluated individually and the right decision made for each. The last study done on Peralta said it should remain a school. Yet all of the talk at school board meetings by those that support Fairfield is that it is surplus and must be sold. Studies need to be done and facts and figures analyzed so that the right decisions are made for each property. There is no rush on this yet. They are creating the illusion that it needs to be done in a hurry and including it as part of voting down the Fairfield deal at Peralta. The business group says that no one will vote for a bond if there is surplus property. Our neighbors are much smarter than that and will look at everything now that we have been watching the school board so carefully. They are separate issues and there is no need to tie them together.
3. The school bond issue should be after the November 2014 election so we know who the new Trustees will be on our OUSD School Board. After all that has been heard and seen at the school board meetings, many could be in favor of a school bond. It is good for schools, our community, and our property values if schools are good. However, there is general feeling from many neighbors that they would NEVER vote to give more money to Mr. Surridge and Mr. Ledesma. They cannot be trusted. They would not vote for a bond if there is a chance that these men will be in charge of that money
It is clear that our neighborhood was united in fighting the 380 high density apartments at Peralta. Once that plan is stopped, there will be many diverse opinions about the property and the OUSD School Board. It will be a good thing that we are all aware of what has been going on and there may be some interesting ideas generated that were never thought of before. That discussion will be good – even though we may not stay so united. We are all united in trying to keep our neighborhood safe and strong and we want the Peralta property developed responsibly – no zoning change. We need to work together to make sure that happens.