Claremont Insider: Measure CL Update

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Measure CL Update


A reader sends word that the student paper at Claremont High School had an editorial urging a NO vote on the school district's $95 million Measure CL. One of the reasons the Wolfpacket cited for recommending a NO on CL was that it doesn't make any sense to fund operational costs with bond:
Though all of the 95 million dollars are supposed to go towards the Claremont schools, only about a third of the money will actually benefit schools. The high interest rate of the bond will result in increased prices for basic purchases--If the school was to buy a computer costing $1000, due to the interest rate, that computer would cost the school $3000.

The students are right on this count. Although the Claremont Unified School District and its superintendent, Terry Nichols, have refused to release the financing details for the bond, we do know that the bond proponents have acknowledged that the CL bond will be financed over 40 years and that the total costs, with interest payments, will approach $250 million. The district has essentially stipulated to that much.

So for every dollar we borrow and spend, we'll be paying back more than $2.50. The CUSD board of education's enabling resolution for this bond stated that some of the borrowed money from CL will go towards paying operational costs. It means a ream of paper that costs you and I $5.00 would end up costing CUSD $15.00.

Using the bond money in such a way is no different than using a credit card or borrowing against your house to pay for a car. And like a car, that computer the Wolfpacket editorial referred to is going to be worth much less by the time it's paid off. In the case of a computer, it'd be worth nothing at all, except as a collector's item. Ask yourself how much is your own computer going to be worth in 40 years?

We're surprised to see that many people associated with this extremely flawed district finance plan are affiliated with the Claremont Colleges. Pomona College president David Oxtoby, Harvey Mudd College president Maria Klawe, Claremont McKenna College president Pamela Gann, Claremont Graduate University interim president Joseph Hough, CGU president emeritus John Maguire, retired CMC president Jack Stark, and others like Pomona College professor David Menefee-Libey have all endorsed CL.

Yet, if those same parties tried to run their own institutions with bond money financed as proposed under Measure CL, the trustees of their respective colleges be screaming bloody murder. It's simply foolish to spend money in such a way, and the CHS students are on target with their commentary.

Incidentally, this reminds us of some information buried in that the pre-election polling commissioned at a cost of $35,000 by CUSD earlier this year. The poll, conducted by our favorite district consultant, Jared Boigon of TBWB Strategies, indicated that a bond would have less support among people with kids in Claremont Unified schools than it would with people who were older and who didn't have children attending the schools. We suspect that this is because the closer one is to the actual day-to-day workings of our school district, the less wonderful it actually is.

As they do with most things they want you to pay for, the Claremont 400 have romanticized our schools to the point that their idealized vision of our local schools bears no relation to the reality of the situation.

Here's the Wolfpacket editorial, courtesy of our reader:

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