After nearly two years of reaching out to local municipalities and compiling a laundry list of transportation issues throughout the county, the 12-member VTA board voted unanimously to place a 30-year, countywide half-cent sales tax measure on the November ballot.
The Gilroy Unified School District will receive $170 million from city property owners to build a new elementary school and update two middle schools.
In mailers to thousands to Gilroy homes, in speeches, in endorsements by politicians and wealthy businessmen and on signs all around town, voters have been told that passage of the $170 million Measure E bond proposal on Tuesday’s ballot will ensure Gilroy kids get a good education by building modern schools with state-of-the-art technology.But a Dispatch review of school rankings and research data suggest the jury is still out on whether new facilities make a significant difference in some measures of academic standards.In Gilroy, school rankings appear inconsistent on the question and suggest that factors such as poverty play a bigger role than facilities when it comes to classroom achievement.Christopher High School, the district’s $158 million showcase, was built with 2008 bond money and non-voter approved $33 million in Certificates of Participation, repaid from the general fund. Its state academic ratings are high, 8 out of 10 compared to all California high schools and 7 among schools with similar demographics.But Gilroy High School, an old facility with some recent modernization, ranks at 4 among all high schools and 5 among similar schools in the state.Glen View Elementary School was completely remodeled last year with about $7 million from 2008’s $150 million Measure P, money still being repaid by taxpayers.Glen View in the past has lagged in test scores and in recent tests that pattern continues. The school ranked 4 on a scale of 1 to 10 compared to schools statewide.Compared to schools with similar demographics it ranked 3. And in terms of how it serves low-income students, who make up most of its student body, it also ranked at 3.Gilroy Prep School, the only charter school in the Gilroy Unified School District, ranked at 10 among California schools, 9 in how it helps low-income kids and 6 compared to similar schools.At GPS, technology of the kind Measure E would pay for helps students. Personal computers allow students to interact immediately with teachers, and allow teachers to monitor in real time whether students understand what’s being taught.When it opened in 2011, GPS was put in a collection of old portables at South Valley Junior High School. And while the school has since had some upgrades paid for by bond money, its scores from the beginning have been among the state’s highest.GUSD officials, including assistant superintendent Alvaro Mesa, have said comparisons with a charter school aren’t fair and that differences between schools such as Glen View and Gilroy Prep have more to do with the percentage of low-income students than facility conditions.GPS has always focused on low-income, underserved families, with school officials sometimes knocking on doors in low-income neighborhoods to recruit students.About 55 percent of GPS students are on a free and reduced cost lunch program, an indication of those families’ low-income.The figure at Glen View is a lot higher, Meza said.Asked to comment on whether spending millions on school facilities and really matters in classroom achievement, schools superintendent Debbie Flores issued this statement:“The district has not stated that Measure E is needed to improve education, but rather to help maintain the high-quality of education currently provided to all local students. If Measure E does not pass, additional monies from the general fund would need to go to shoring up our older facilities and ensuring they continue to meet safety standards for students. This would take needed funds away from educational programs. Also, the district believes that equitable facilities should be provided to all students.”In the newest Yes on E mailer, Gilroy businessman and Chamber of Commerce 2016 Man of the Year for 2016 Joel Goldsmith put it this way: “Nothing in our community is more important than educating our young people, and that is best done in modern facilities.”Mayor Perry Woodward wrote in the mailing that passage “will help sustain the high quality of education provided to our children and allow us to modernize and build facilities to better support instruction needs.”When it comes to Gilroy’s oldest—South Valley and Brownell—and its newest—Solorsano—middle schools there is almost no difference in their state rankings.Here’s now the rankings show up on greatschools.org, which tracks state school standings nationwide.Brownell and Solorsano ranked 7 and South Valley 6 when compared to all California middle schools.Compared to middle schools with similar demographics, Brownell outranked Solorsano, 7 to 6, and South Valley was at 5.Compared to how well the schools meet the needs of low-income students, Solorsano ranked 6 while the others had 5.At the California Policy Center, a think-tank that digs into school bonding, researcher and author Kevin Dayton said Tuesday, “I am not aware of any peer-reviewed study, or any study for that matter, that has proven that a bond measure and facilities improvement results in better test scores. To think that a new building is going to make children be better mathematicians or thinkers is absurd.”However, in a 2010 study the 21st Century School Foundation (at http://bit.ly/24jfAVL) in Washington D.C. found that “Recent research continues to point to a small but steadily positive relationship between the quality of a public school facility and a range of academic and community outcomes.”Among its cited research one study found that, “In schools with poor facilities, students attended less days on average and therefore had lower grades in English Language Arts and Math standardized tests. Attendance was found to be a full mediator for grades in ELA and a partial mediator for grades in math.”Another cited study found a “4-9 percent difference between students in schools in worst/best condition; 5-9 percent difference between students in oldest/newest schools; 4 percent difference in graduation rates between students in schools in worst/best condition and between students in oldest/newest schools.”Dayton is critical of the political processes behind school bond sales.“At every stage of the process, interests that will benefit from bond sales can take advantage of a system that favors passage of a bond measure,” he wrote in 2015. “Some issues of concern include use of public funds to develop campaigns to pass bond measures, significant political contributions to campaigns from interests likely to benefit from construction, involvement of college foundations as intermediaries for campaign contributions, and conflicts of interest and alleged pay-to-play contracts.”He went on, “Few Californians realize how much debt they’ve imposed on future generations with their votes for bond measures meant to fund the construction of new and modernized school facilities.“From 2001 to 2014, California voters considered 1147 ballot measures proposed by K-12 school districts and community college districts to borrow money for construction via bond sales. Voters approved 911 of these bond measures, giving 642 school and college districts authority to borrow a total of $110.4 billion.”Dayton’s study can be found here: http://bit.ly/1TY7qAC.In its latest round of campaign finance disclosures, the Yes on E group, Friends of GUSD Supporting Measure E, listed more contributions from companies outside Gilroy that do business with the school district.They include Val’s Plumbing & Heating of Salinas, $2,500; Total Securities Concepts Division of TSCS, Inc., of Prunedale, $2,500; and Palace Business Solutions of Santa Cruz, $500.Those are in addition to more than $30,000 in contributions already received from a half-dozen of the school district’s biggest contractors, some of whom have worked on previous bond projects, including the Seward L. Schreder Construction of Redding. That firm did more than $14 million in bond-related projects with GUSD from 2011 through 2015 and is Measure E’s biggest financial supporter at $10,000.In its campaign filing report, the pro-E committee listed spending of $2,107 for 400 yard signs and $5,753 to print and mail flyers to 10,000 Gilroy homes.It also lists a $2,279 reimbursed to Jaime Rosso for money he spent out of his own pocket for campaign literature, banners and sign lumber before the committee had its own account, he said. Rosso is the spokesperson for the committee and a longtime GUSD school board member.
If you want to make America great again, there’s something you can do right away: Vote yes on Measure E and support Gilroy’s schools.With one swoop of your pen and a serious commitment of $60 for every $100,000 of property you own, you can build a new elementary school and fix up degrading middle schools. You can keep all of the district’s schools top notch, which is what we think makes America and our community great.For some reasons that make no sense to us, schools, teachers and taxes have become anathema in this country over the past 40 years. Everyone wants the best services but no one wants to pay for them.If you go back to a time a lot of people think America was great (and we think it’s still great, by the way), you might try the 1950s and 1960s when tax rates, particularly on the rich, were double and triple what they are now. Under Dwight D. Eisenhower, the rich paid 91 percent of their income. Under Richard M. Nixon, it was down to 77 percent. But then it kept dropping as rich people gained more power and convinced a large number of Americans that taxes were bad, particularly taxes on the rich. Back then, people didn’t mind the taxes as much because they knew they were making America great. They were proud of their country and still incredibly rich, despite the taxes.The earlier tax rates afforded us immeasurable greatness. We built a transcontinental highway system. We built the biggest buildings in the world. We went to the moon. We built great schools and free public university systems.But now schools have to raise money by holding their hats out like beggars. What’s happened to this country, where no one asks us to vote to spend trillions on wars both parties later realize were mistakes, but we act like the schools are criminals for wanting to give teachers a living wage and give kids modern buildings and educational systems?How do so many people--some of them wealthier people who send their children to private schools-- figure taxes to help schools are a bad thing? There are exceptions, like Don Christopher, a businessman who puts his funds where his heart is. We aren’t saying the schools and their administrators are perfect. We’ve spent plenty of time dissecting their faults, poring over every document. We aren’t happy about some of the lack of transparency we’ve seen. We don’t like that they don’t live-stream school board meetings. We don’t like how they rushed this election without time to make a stronger case and can’t or won’t even name who solicited the highest donations. The list of projects the money will be spent on is not detailed enough. We question some of the ties between contractors and the board. We don’t like the fact that Christopher High School came in so over budget that its promised theater was never built, the track and field needed private funding to be completed and seven years after the building was finished, it needs repairs.But after putting them through the investigative wringer, we see no reason not to put up another $170 million to keep our schools on the cutting edge. (For comparison’s sake, the Iraq War cost $720 million a day.) The bottom line is that we have to support our schools, whatever it takes. To do anything less is criminal. It’s the opposite of making America great.In Finland and China teachers are as valued as doctors and CEOs. Those countries haven’t forgotten the value of great education. Rather than criticizing teachers unions we’d like to see the schools pay the way private companies do. That would guarantee the best and the brightest get the jobs and hold them.If you want to look at just the bottom line: this isn’t so much a tax as it is an investment. Nothing will make property value go up more than a great school system. Gilroy homes are already a bargain in Silicon Valley. Add more school buildings like Christopher High and more programs like Gilroy High’s biomedical training, and watch the values increase far more than the taxes.
More than 90 percent of the $37,696 in the Yes on Measure E campaign chest is from outside Gilroy—most from firms, including one in New York, whose business with the school district exceeds $33 million just since 2011.
At this time, we’re housing our children in school buildings where their own parents attended classes 30 or 40 years ago. The average age of schools in the Gilroy Unified School District is 30 years old and five schools are more than 50 years old. The District has taken great care of the schools but they need to be renovated and rebuilt.
Eligible Santa Clara County residents who have not registered to vote in the June 7, 2016 Presidential Primary Election can take advantage of special extended hours today to ensure that they will be able to cast a ballot. The Registrar of Voters’ Office will remain open until 8:00 p.m. today for those who wish to complete their voter registration forms or vote early. Today is the last day to register to vote or to re-register with a different party preference in order to vote for a presidential candidate of the voter’s choosing. Voters who do not wish to travel can register online using the California Online Voter Registration website. Online registration must be completed before midnight in order to meet the deadline. Alternatively, voters can sign and return paper registration forms by mail; paper registration forms that are postmarked today will be accepted. Paper registration forms are available at post offices, public libraries, fire stations, city halls, and most local government offices. The Registrar of Voters’ Office encourages early voting. Voters who prefer to cast their ballot in person can vote early at the Registrar of Voters’ Office every weekday and on the two weekends prior to the election, or at an Early Voting Center on the two weekends prior to the election. Vote by Mail voters can vote early by mailing their ballots or dropping them off at one of 52 drop-off, drive-thru, and early voting sites before the election. No postage is necessary for voters returning their ballots using a postage-paid return envelope that is included with every Vote by Mail ballot. In previous elections, voters had to pay the cost of return postage, which frequently exceeded a single first-class stamp. Notably, Santa Clara is only the second county in the state to feature prepaid postage for Vote by Mail ballots. Registrar of Voters Shannon Bushey stated, “There is no more important action in a democracy than voting. The Registrar of Voters’ Office is passionate about increasing voter turnout. We hope that we will make it easier to vote by providing prepaid postage for all Vote by Mail ballots, and by providing Early Voting Centers for all voters in the county. “No Party Preference” VotersThe Registrar of Voters’ Office mailed over 150,000 postcards to “No Party Preference” (Decline to State or Non-Partisan) voters on March 24 to inform them about voting for a presidential candidate in the primary election. Voters who registered with no party preference may request a ballot to vote for a candidate of the Democratic, American Independent, or Libertarian parties. The postcard sent by the Registrar of Voters’ Office advises “No Party Preference” voters of their option to choose a party ballot – Democratic, American Independent, or Libertarian – that they would like to vote. This postcard does not change voters’ party affiliation, but does allow voters to vote for the presidential candidate listed on their chosen party ballot. Voters who registered with no party preference and who would like to vote for the presidential candidate of the Republican, Green, or Peace & Freedom parties must re-register to vote with that party by today, Monday, May 23. The Republican, Green, and Peace & Freedom parties do not allow “No Party Preference” voters to vote their party ballot. A voter should complete a new registration form if he or she has moved, changed a name(s), or would like to change his or her political party preference. To register to vote in Santa Clara County, a voter must be a U.S. citizen, at least 18 years old on or before Election Day, a Santa Clara County resident and not imprisoned or on parole for a felony. Today is the last day to register to vote in the June 7, 2016 Presidential Primary Election. Registration can be done online at Register to Vote. Voters who would like to check their registration status may do so at Check Your Registration Status. Voters may also request to vote by mail for this election at Request a Vote by Mail Ballot, or they may request to become permanent Vote by Mail voters at Permanent Vote by Mail. First In, First CountedVoters are encouraged to mail their ballots as soon as possible. Completed ballots that are received prior to Election Day are included in the results released at 8 p.m. on Election Night. Early VotingAny voter in Santa Clara County can vote early at the Registrar of Voters' Office, which is located at 1555 Berger Drive, Building 2, San Jose, CA 95112. Day(s) Date(s) Hours Monday – Friday May 9 – June 6 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.Saturday May 28 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.Sunday May 29 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.Saturday June 4 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.Sunday June 5 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesday June 7 (Election Day) 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Early Voting CentersDuring the two weekends prior to Election Day, voters have the option of casting their ballot at any one of five convenient Early Voting Centers or at the Registrar of Voters’ Office. Once voters arrive at the Early Voting Center of their choice or at the Registrar of Voters’ Office, they can obtain a ballot and cast it in person, or they can take it home to complete later. Voters can also drop off their completed Vote by Mail ballot, receive a replacement for a lost or damaged Vote by Mail ballot, or use a touch screen voting machine. The touch screen voting machines are accessible to blind and visually impaired voters. A ballot that is cast at an Early Voting Center or at the Registrar of Voters’ Office must be sealed inside a signed envelope and the voter’s signature must be verified before the ballot can be counted. Day(s) Date(s) Hours Saturday - Sunday May 28 – May 29 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday - Sunday June 4 – June 5 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. The Early Voting Centers will be located at: Gilroy Library – 350 W. Sixth Street, Gilroy, CA 95020San Jose Public Library – Joyce Ellington Branch – 491 E. Empire Street, San Jose, CA 95112Los Altos Library – 13 S. San Antonio Road, Los Altos, CA 94022Santa Clara City Library – 2635 Homestead Road, Santa Clara, CA 95051San Jose Public Library – Educational Park Branch – 1772 Educational Park Drive, San Jose, CA 95133 Ballot Drop-Off SitesBeginning May 9 and continuing through Election Day, Vote by Mail voters have the option of dropping off their completed ballots at the following locations: Open during normal business hoursSanta Clara County Government Center – 1st Floor, 70 W. Hedding Street, San Jose, CA 95110 Monte Sereno City Hall – City Clerk’s Office, 18041 Saratoga-Los Gatos Road, Monte Sereno, CA 95030Campbell City Hall – City Clerk’s Office, 70 N. First Street, Campbell, CA 95008 Morgan Hill City Hall – City Clerk’s Office, 17575 Peak Avenue, Morgan Hill, CA 95037Cupertino City Hall – City Clerk’s Office, 10300 Torre Avenue, Cupertino, CA 95014 Mountain View City Hall – City Clerk’s Office, 500 Castro Street, Mountain View, CA 94041Gilroy City Hall – City Clerk’s Office, 7351 Rosanna Street, Gilroy, CA 95020 Palo Alto City Hall – City Clerk’s Office, 250 Hamilton Avenue, Palo Alto, CA 94301Los Altos City Hall – City Clerk’s Office, 1 N. San Antonio Road, Los Altos, CA 94022 San Jose City Hall – City Clerk’s Office, 200 E. Santa Clara Street, Wing 2, San Jose, CA 95113Los Altos Hills Town Hall – Town Clerk’s Office, 26379 Fremont Road, Los Altos Hills, CA 94022 Santa Clara City Hall – City Clerk’s Office, 1500 Warburton Avenue, Santa Clara, CA 95050Los Gatos Town Hall – Town Clerk’s Office, 110 E. Main Street, Los Gatos, CA 95030 Saratoga City Hall – City Clerk’s Office, 13777 Fruitvale Avenue, Saratoga, CA 95070Milpitas City Hall – City Clerk’s Office, 455 E. Calaveras Boulevard, Milpitas, CA 95035 Sunnyvale City Hall – City Finance Office, 650 W. Olive Avenue, Sunnyvale, CA 94086Martin Luther King Library – Inside drop-box, 150 E. San Fernando Street, San Jose, CA 95112 Mitchell Park Library – Inside drop-box, 3700 Middlefield Road, Palo Alto, CA 94303 Rose Garden Library – Inside drop-box, 1580 Naglee Avenue, San Jose, CA 95126 Open 24 hours a daySan Jose State University – at Clark Hall Bldg. & The Villages, 1 Washington Square, San Jose, CA 95112 West Valley College – at Admissions near the flag pole, 14000 Fruitvale Avenue, Saratoga, CA 95070De Anza College – at Main Quad near the flag pole, 21250 Stevens Creek Boulevard, Cupertino, CA 95014 Gavilan College – at Student Center, 5055 Santa Teresa Boulevard, Gilroy, CA 95020Evergreen Valley College – at Cafeteria located in Gullo 1, 3095 Yerba Buena Road, San Jose, CA 95135 Mission College – at Drop off/Pick-up Loop, 3000 Mission College Boulevard, Santa Clara, CA 95054Foothill College – at Building 1900-Administration near the flag pole, 12345 El Monte Road, Los Altos Hills, CA 94022San Jose City College – at Student Center, 2100 Moorpark Avenue, San Jose, CA 95128Berryessa Library – Outside drop-box, 3355 Noble Avenue, San Jose, CA 95132 Milpitas Library – Outside drop-box, 160 N. Main Street, Milpitas, CA 95035Campbell Library – Outside drop-box, 77 Harrison Avenue, Campbell, CA 95008 Mountain View Public Library – Outside drop-box, 585 Franklin Street, Mountain View, CA 94041Central Park Library – Outside drop-box, 2635 Homestead Road, Santa Clara, CA 95051Morgan Hill Library – Outside drop-box, 660 W. Main Avenue, Morgan Hill, CA 95037Cupertino Library – Outside drop-box, 10800 Torre Avenue, Cupertino, CA 95014Pearl Avenue Library – Outside drop-box, 4270 Pearl Avenue, San Jose, CA 95136Gilroy Library – Outside drop-box, 350 W. Sixth Street, Gilroy, CA 95020 Saratoga Library – Outside drop-box, 13650 Saratoga Avenue, Saratoga, CA 95070Los Altos Library – Outside drop-box, 13 S. San Antonio Road, Los Altos, CA 94022 Tully Community Library – Outside drop-box, 880 Tully Road, San Jose, CA 95111Los Gatos Library – Outside drop-box, 100 Villa Avenue, Los Gatos, CA 95030 Woodland Branch Library – Outside drop-box, 1975 Grant Road, Los Altos, CA 94024 Drive-Thru Ballot Drop-Off SitesOn Saturdays, May 28 & 29 and June 4 & 5, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., Vote by Mail voters will have the option of dropping off their ballots without getting out of their vehicles at convenient Drive-Thru Ballot Drop-Off Sites. The sites will be located at: Curtner Light Rail Station – Canoas Garden Avenue at Curtner Avenue, San Jose, CA 95125 Morgan Hill Transit Center – Main Avenue at Hale Avenue, Morgan Hill, CA 95037Hostetter Light Rail Station – Capitol Avenue at Camino del Rey, San Jose, CA 95132 Westgate Shopping Center –back lot near Hamilton Avenue, 1600 Saratoga Avenue, San Jose, CA 95129Mayfield Soccer Complex – Page Mill Road at El Camino Real, Palo Alto, CA 94304 For more information, contact the Registrar of Voters’ Office at 1-408-299-VOTE (8683) or toll-free at 1-866-430-VOTE (8683), or visit www.sccvote.org. # # #
This November’s election will be hugely important for Gilroy and for the nation as a whole. Not only will it be a test of our presidential election system, but it will be an opportunity for Gilroy residents to vote for a mayor and three council members of their choice. Mayor Woodward, Cat Tucker, Teri Aulman and Daniel Harney all finish their terms at that time. This is an exciting moment in the history of our democracy. I hope that Gilroy residents will register to vote if they haven’t already, and that all registered voters express their wishes at the polls.
GILROY--Gavilan Community College trustees have supported making changes to the way voters elect them, a trustee confirmed.
The Gilroy Dispatch conducted Q&As with candidates for both the Gilroy City Council and the Gilroy Unified School District's Board of Education. See what they had to say here: