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Letters to the Editor, Sept. 12 - 14


Measure E spending proper and necessary

EDITOR: As a partial response to my Valley Forum article in last Friday’s I-T (“A Message From Chief of the School District,” Sept. 8), I received an email from an opponent of the School District’s facilities plan. He stated that, while I had clarified the process which had been followed in its development, I had not properly dealt with the major issue. The argument referred to was that voters were misled in that there was not sufficient notice that some of the funds derived from that bond issue might be used in support of athletic and recreational facilities.

While I had not commented on this particular issue before because I felt, given the facts, it would not be taken seriously. However, two comments made by him in his email to me have caused me to change my mind. The first was:

“We should follow through on the promised deliverables of Proposition E and not add projects that were omitted from the proposal of last year. That Bond issue definition was the basis upon which I voted.”

The second was even more critical:

“I am very disappointed that it was not communicated clearly... if at all... that fields and a pool were part of the project list. Public trust is crucial.”

I agree that public trust is crucial. In regard to the handling of Measure E, neither the School Board, nor any District official has done anything to deserve less than full public trust. The bond text itself made it abundantly clear that recreation, athletic and supporting facilities, specifically including a pool, were part of the list of projects subject to funding from this measure.

The full text of the bond issue is included as Appendix A of the voter pamphlet every registered voter received. In that document the projects listed as necessary and eligible for funding were set forth as bulleted items in a section called Bond Project List. In the list, 16 bulleted items appeared. Of those bullets, four (25 percent) dealt with recreation and athletic facilities. The following provision was the most inclusive of those:

“Modernize, renovate, rehabilitate, reconfigure, expand, upgrade and/or equip locker rooms, gymnasiums, physical education/athletic fields and related facilities for school and community use.”

Another item, referring to “construction at school sites,” specifically mentions pools.

I hope this presentation clarifies your understanding of the propriety as well as the necessity of the District’s facilities improvement plan.

Charles Young

SVUSD Superintendent

Failing schools shouldn’t invest in sports

EDITOR: I am a resident of the City of Sonoma and I am writing to provide my opinion regarding the allocation of funds from the Measure E bond initiative. I strongly oppose the use of the funds for the planned athletic fields at Sonoma Valley High School and Altimira Middle School. The reason is simple: the public schools in Sonoma are not fulfilling their main mission, which is providing a quality education. The website www.school-ratings.com provides the public with an objective assessment of how well public schools are performing with respect to educating their students. As I hope you are aware, the academic performance of students enrolled in Sonoma public schools is terrible.

On a scoring system of 1 to 10, with “1” being the worst level of performance, Sonoma public schools have the following ratings (based on API score):

Prestwood Elementary: 5

Adele Harrison Middle School: 4

Sonoma Valley High School: 3

Altimira Middle School: 2

Flowery Elementary: 1

Sassarini Elementary: 1

For comparison, both public high schools in Petaluma are rated “8”. The performance of Sonoma’s public schools is a disgrace. Instead of spending money on athletic fields, the School Board should be diverting funds from athletic programs into improving the educational resources of our failing schools. It is absurd to contemplate that any amount of the Measure E funds would be spent on anything but addressing the urgent crisis posed by our failing schools.

I urge you to reorient your plans and your mission as a school board toward the objective of improving the ratings of all Sonoma public schools to “8.” After that is achieved, I will happily support investment in athletic fields.

Kent Iverson

Sonoma

Don’t forget ‘Fleshless Friday’

EDITOR: With the new school year upon us, parents turn their attention to school clothes, school supplies and school food. Yes, school food!

More than 31 million children rely on school meals for their daily nutrition, which too often consists of highly processed food laden with saturated fat. Not surprisingly, one-third of our children have become overweight or obese. Their early dietary flaws become lifelong addictions, raising their risk of diabetes, heart disease and stroke.

To compound the problem, the Trump administration has loosened Obama’s 2010 school lunch rules calling for whole grains, fat-free milk and reduced salt content. The rules had an 86 percent approval rating.

Fortunately, many U.S. school districts now offer vegetarian options.

More than 120 schools, including the entire school districts of Baltimore, Boston, Buffalo, Detroit, Houston, Kansas City, Los Angeles, Oakland, Philadelphia and San Diego have implemented Meatless Monday.

As parents, we need to involve our own children and school cafeteria managers in promoting healthy, plant-based foods in our local schools.

Entering “vegan options in schools” in a search engine provides lots of useful resources.

Pedro Muniz

Petaluma