Promising measure promises nothing but uncertainty

Minh Bui

A year after voters pass a $198,000,000 parcel tax, uncertainty and technical bureaucracy holds up progress.

A year after its passage, the results promised by Measure B don’t seem as imminent as they once did on the June ballot last year.


In order to offset the number of imposing budget cuts from the state, Cupertino residents passed a $198,000,000 parcel tax to support the FUHSD. When faced with the measure, voters were presented with the idea that passage would, according to the district website, “keep schools safe and clean and keep technology current” at their respective schools.

One year later, MVHS has just begun to make good on these promises by installing overhead projectors into the classrooms. As of now, these improvements are limited to the A and D buildings, and predictions of a set deadline for completion are unknown. The lack of a concrete time frame makes further renovations such as the possibility of a new building and an electronic marquis simply afterthoughts.

A year after receiving voter approval, the guarantee of support for local schools is now shrouded by indecision and technicalities. Photo provided by www.aboutmeasureb.com.

Other schools in the district seem to be running into this pattern of doubt and delay as well. On June 10, 2009, the ceremonious arrival of a bulldozer commemorated the beginning of track and field upgrades at Homestead High. As of August 3rd construction has crept to a standstill, a result of the district’s failure to receive approval from the Department of the State Architect. The seemingly hard part, convincing voters to fork up 125 dollars annually over a six year period, now seems eclipsed by the bureaucracy and indecision that goes hand-in-hand with actually using the money.

To add further confusion to the matter, there has been inconsistency regarding progress among schools in the district. Lynbrook High School has already received a number of solar panels for its parking lots, this green alternative being a critical part of the district’s plan to save $1,000,000 a year in energy costs. Cupertino High School has begun installation of solar panels in its parking lots and added cirtical equipment replacements in their kitchen and cafeteria.

Therefore management of the funds must be called into question; while construction is going fine at some schools, at others it is being bogged down by overlooked obstacles. I see this stemming from the district’s satisfaction at scheduling construction without urgency in mind. Prolonging this period of improvement only seems natural when the parcel tax calls for 6 years of annual taxpayer money.  Having renovations done while residents pay their dues seems like a better strategy than having them pay for construction done years ago. People would much rather see their money in action rather than continue putting money into something already completed. For instance, according to the district website, MVHS won’t see installation of those solar panels until the summer of 2010.  

The problem that arises from this pattern of staggered construction is that it will hold up any financial benefits presented by the June 2008 measure. Since Measure B is a school bond, legally it can only be used on upgrades of facilities and equipment. And while the district website claims that the $1,000,000 yearly savings will be spent on teacher salaries and educational programs, these promises cannot be met until scheduled solar panels are up and running. Therefore, expected gains from this parcel tax must wait along with the other shortcomings fueled by technical bureaucracy.

The district should stop twiddling its thumbs and schedule construction that doesn’t prolong inaction. They already have the money. It’s time they started spending it.