Board slaps idea down
Mono County community members voiced concerned over an Eastern Sierra Unified School District Board of Education agenda item at the Board’s regular meeting on Wendesday night. If approved, the item would have reallocated $4 million in bond funds to other capital projects. Citizens complained that using the money this way was not the intent of the original measure. Originally it was a Prop 39 general obligation bond passed by state voters in 2000 for school infrastructure. The money was earmarked for building a school gym in Benton.
According to wording in the agenda item, “The citizens’ bond oversight committee recently recommended that the board consider reallocating bond funds currently reserved for building a gymnasium at the Benton campus and using those funds for other eligible capital projects in the district. Management agrees that this course of action should be considered, and recommends opening a one month public comment period to receive input on this proposal.”
A list of capital projects, amounting to just under $4 million, was attached.
“It would be morally and ethically wrong to take the Tri-Valley citizens’ money just because you could,” Mono County Supervisor Hap Hazard said to the Board. The Board’s proposal, he opined, involved not just 30-40 kids and their family but also about a 1,000 taxpayers.
During his comments, Hazard pressed the Board on the commitment they had made, and pointed out “the need to have community support in the future” and described a “trust” that could potentially be broken.
According to Hazard, the BOE voted to end the discussion of redirecting the money, and in fact recommitted to the gym. The Board will, however, seek a redesign of the gym in hopes to lower the construction cost.
Up next for the Board will be dealing with potential deep financial cuts to the District next year. -Geisel