School board urged to reconsider bond spending decision

April 20, 2001
Santa Paula News

The Santa Paula Elementary School Board has been asked again to rescind their vote of last month on how to spend 10-million dollars in bond funds.

The Santa Paula Elementary School Board has been asked again to rescind their vote of last month on how to spend 10-million dollars in bond funds.A letter was read by teacher Kathleen Thrift from the staff and parents at Glen City School, opposing the decision the March decision on the distribution and phases of the bond money.The letter states that the board had previously indicated that the first priority for the money would be the updating and renovation of schools that are in need, putting all the district’s schools on an equal footing. But, because of the board vote to build a gym at Isbell Middle School and a multipurpose room at Bedell School, the Glen City letter says there will be no equity. “We feel that the health and safety of our children should come first, before the building of a gymnasium,” the letter says. “Glen City has never been renovated and there are several problems that need to be addressed.”Problems such as leaking roofs, defective plumbing and out-of-date electrical wiring were cited. Overcrowding was another issue raised. “We have over 80 people on staff with a converted porch as our workroom,” the letter states. “The front office is about the quarter the size of a classroom and the administrators’ offices are tiny.”
Others also spoke to the board on the issue. Two Isbell students urged that the gym be built at their school. Marilee Rust said is was hard to do P.E. when it was raining. Donna Harrison, a first grade teacher at Blanchard School said she was not against Isbell or Bedell. “When calling for votes (on the bond measure) we spoke of restoration,” she told trustees. “Let’s repair what we have before we build new facilities.” She noted that they had been promised that Blanchard would get new paint each year for the past 12 years and she said the condition of the paint was deplorable.In a related matter, Board President Michelle Kolbeck read a statement to the board. She said she wanted to set the record straight on some issues. “First of all, at the last board meeting, neither I nor Mr. (Dan) Robles voted against the Alternate Bond Measure plan, nor did we abstain from voting,” she said. “We both said present. We were instructed at the time that a present vote meant that we were present for the vote.” Kolbeck said they were told that was an appropriate route to take because there was some question about the agenda item being an action item. “My reason for voting present was that I felt that we did not have enough information concerning this item.” She added that the community had not had enough information on the plan and she felt it was prudent to be cautious with her vote.Kolbeck also reminded the board that they were bound by the Brown Act and rules concerning confidential matters. Apparently some information regarding a possible lawsuit was leaked to attorneys for the other side. “We must never knowingly overstep these boundaries or we have not fulfilled our duty to the citizens of Santa Paula and we may be setting the district up for possible litigation,” she told the board. “I therefore urge the board to join me in making the integrity of the board a priority and to put children first when making our decisions.”

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