Back with the Bond

Community members should vote for Measure CC

Stuti Upadhyay

Seven hours and 25 minutes. The length of a typical school day at MVHS. In a month, students spend around 150 hours at school. In a year, that’s around 1,300 hours. In four years, MVHS students spend 5,340 hours on campus and in classrooms.

Given that students spend so much time on campus, it is essential that our educational environment be as comfortable and as conducive to learning as possible. The creaky chairs containing years’ worth of dust, unstable stools in biology rooms, the funky smell in the B building and filthy carpets in the D building may not seem like a big deal, but when considering their cumulative effect, these details can have a sizeable impact on students’ ability to learn at school.

According to the Sage Journal, “an optimal environment would encourage a good relationship between the student and his or her environment, thereby encouraging more productive learning and better motivation and concentration.”

In order to continue renovations at schools in the FUHSD, the school board has recently approved Measure CC, a $275 million bond, for the Nov. 6, 2018 ballot. The bond money would be spent on new heating and air conditioning systems, technology, furniture, roofing, flooring, ceiling tiles, LED lighting,  painting, fire alarms, sprinklers and renovating the academic quad.

At MVHS, all classrooms in the A, B, C, D and E buildings would receive these renovations. Although the improvements would not be as extravagant as a new cafeteria or gymnasium, each classroom would receive maintenance crucial for a school built over 50 years ago.

As society advances at an exponential rate, it’s imperative for students in our district to have the environment and resources we need to prepare to compete in a global market. Having the optimal physical environment surrounding us can make a sizeable difference, and is just one of the reasons we need our community to support Measure CC.

As students, it can often be difficult to come to school day after day to learn and study; the renovations from the bond can help us get the most out of our education. In a survey of 386 MVHS students,  83 percent claim that having a more pleasant physical environment benefits their learning and makes them more willing to come to school.

Beyond just students, however, teachers can also benefit from Measure CC. Just as students spend thousands of hours on campus learning, teachers spend thousands of hours on campus teaching.

As opposed to students, teachers do not move from room to room throughout the day, so having better furniture and utilities in the space they spend most of their time can positively affect teachers and translate to better teaching. In a survey of 25 MVHS teachers, 68 percent say the renovations from the bond can significantly impact their teaching, and another 24 percent say the renovations could somewhat impact their teaching. If students are more comfortable in their class environment, they will be easier to teach, and vice versa.

Still, some do not want to support the bond because they feel like it would deter community members from voting for a parcel tax, a tax that can be used to raise teacher salaries, in the future. In the same survey of MVHS teachers, if both the bond and the parcel tax were equally passable, 88 percent of teachers would prefer a parcel tax   over a bond. The parcel tax allows money to be used to provide teachers with competitive salaries. For 15 years, the district has chosen to move forward with bonds, with Measure CC being the third, instead of going for a parcel tax because the 67 percent of votes needed to pass the tax may be unattainable.

Granted, Cupertino is an extremely expensive area, with a cost of living ranked at 384.1 on the cost of living index, almost four times the national average of 100. Even outside Cupertino’s boundaries, the Bay Area in general is an extremely expensive area, making a pay increase extremely valuable to teachers and their ability to comfortably survive in this area.

However, the sheer difficulty of passing a parcel tax makes the bond a much more feasible option. A parcel tax requires 67 percent of the vote, and when the community was polled, this majority was not reached (polls reached 60 percent for both the bond and the parcel tax). As opposed to this, the bond requires 55 percent of the vote and can also indirectly contribute to pay raises. According to FEA union president Jason Heskett, the renovations from bond money lead to decreased maintenance costs and  therefore more leftover money for teachers and other programs.

Because of this, the school board’s decision to put forth a bond instead of a parcel tax was a strategic move that should not deter people from voting for the bond. would not have been sensible to push for a parcel tax and receive none of the $275 million that the bond would possibly bring. A bond is far more likely to be passed, and with the bond comes guaranteed benefits for students and teachers alike.

At this point in the voting and ballot procces, the FUHSD has already chosen to put the bond on the ballot instead of the parcel tax. Not voting for the bond will mean our district gets no money at all, which means even avid supporters of the parcel tax should put their qualms aside and vote for the bond.

The only group in our community that would not experience the direct benefits of Measure CC are taxpayers who do not have family members attending or planning to attend a school in the FUHSD. However, even these members of our community have good reason to vote for Measure CC. The value of homes around Cupertino is largely dependent on our school district’s prestigious status, and money from the bond will continue to elevate the school’s status, and therefore increase the value of community members’ property.

Essentially, the bond is an investment that helps students, teachers and community members. Although community members will be required to pay a small increase in taxes, the cost is reasonable compared to the overall benefits.

Despite all these benefits, the bond will only be passed if the community actively votes for it. Therefore, it is essential that everyone who is eligible to vote in Cupertino supports the bond on the ballot. Even those who cannot vote, such as students, should encourage their friends and family to take just a few minutes out of their day to vote and support our schools in their endeavor to create a more enjoyable learning environment.

A single vote can make a huge difference for our community as a whole.