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Letter to the Editor: Yes on Measure G

A letter to the editor in support of Newark Unified's proposed $63 million school bond measure.

In Defense of Newark Neighborhood Schools 

 

Although the trend in America is that “bigger is better”, studies show that small neighborhood schools are better for children and communities. Keeping the schools in Newark open and running well is vital. Voting YES on Measure G will help this happen.

Research has shown that schools with small enrollments have higher achievement and graduation rates, higher satisfaction among students and teachers, and less discipline problems. There can be negative effects when children have to switch schools. A transition to a new school disrupts students’ relationships with teachers and new relationships tend to be weaker than those they had experienced at the closed schools. One study found that students who changed schools even one time were more than twice as likely to not graduate high school as students who didn’t switch schools.

Children who live near their school can walk or bicycle to school, and can use playgrounds when school is out. Increased physical activity improves children's health and decreases their likelihood of obesity, which is especially important since 17 percent of American children are obese.  

Neighborhood schools positively affect the local economy by employing residents and purchasing materials from local businesses. Events hosted by schools provide opportunities for parents, students and community members to interact and collaborate. 

We also cannot overlook one unintended negative consequence of closing a school that many neighborhoods are experiencing. Megan’s Law states that a registered sex offender cannot live within 1000 feet of a school. When a school closes, this provides another place for sex offenders to move in. In addition to being an unpalatable idea, this may also hurt your finances. Houses near the residence of a sex offender tend to sell for less than comparable homes that are located farther away.

Good neighborhood schools help the community by positively affecting property values. Simply said, a good school equals good property values. Therefore, it is in a homeowner’s best interest to not only keep schools open, but to pay to maintain high quality facilities and academic performance.

You may be asking why I’m talking so much about the importance of Newark’s neighborhood schools, and what this has to do with me urging you to vote YES on Measure G. The school bond would be used to do necessary updates on school facilities. This will free up money in the district’s budget. If this bond measure doesn’t pass, school district money will have to be used to make these updates and this means we will lose funding for programs, teacher salaries, etc. The School Board has talked in the past about closing schools in order to balance the budget or cutting programs like electives and sports. Either one of these options will weaken our school system in Newark.

Do I wish that our federal and state governments made education a priority so we wouldn’t have to pass bond measures? YES! Do I think Newark schools need to make changes to continue to provide quality education? YES! Will I be one of the citizens watching closely to ensure that the bond money is used properly? YES - we all should. Most of all, I realize that by investing in my neighborhood schools, I am making an investment in my property, my community, and my children. I hope you realize this as well and vote Yes on Measure G.

- Cara Madden-Watson, Newark

Adell November 04, 2011 at 03:08 PM
Cara; I don't know if you have children in Newark schools or if you do, how old they are, but If you don't already know, electives, music, drama, etc., have already been cut from the schools. I also know that there is a possibility that the librarians will be cut next school year. Why would NUSD put in new technology, update the Libraries, and what ever else they are saying when the children will not have access to all of it? Some of the NUSD schools have more than 10,000 books in their collections that would go unused and the children doing research, reports, etc., will end up having to go to the Newark Public Library. Unfortunately, some may not be able to get there. There is not nearly enough resources for every child in Newark necessitating a long trip to Fremont to compete with Fremont children. My recommendation is to sell the unused school sites that are available to generate money for repairs. By the way, did you know that with "No Child Left Behind" the school district is only allowed to hire Math and English teachers? Where in you plan does the rest of the elective teachers fit in?
Mona Taplin November 04, 2011 at 03:50 PM
I thin there are some good points in the letter,but I also think the paragraph about sex offenders moving in is a highly exaggerated concern. Our schools are in a bad state of deterioration, and that is the point that should be emphasized. we have already taken big cutbacks in programs and classroom time, and that is another factor that has to be considered. I know several people right now who are looking into Home Schooling rather than send their children to public schools, not just in Newark but in other nearby locations too.
Mona Taplin November 04, 2011 at 04:05 PM
One more thing,- once in the past the Library at the high school was closed during the entire lunch hour and before school. This was several years back when most students had a long walk home and very limited bus service making it difficult to use the library for the short time it was open after school. The Newark City library was much smaller at the time and could not meet the needs of so many students. Teachers complained, rightly so, about students not doing the research required for some classes. If this school district cuts out library again, I think they will be hearing some very loud protests from parents and teachers alike. Rightly so. Office personnel should take the next big hit instead of student needs. I know there have been cutbacks already,- but not near as severe as in student needs.
Cara November 05, 2011 at 05:23 PM
Yes! I do have kids that go to Lincoln elementary and know very well that the schools are suffering. I think that what the Measure G campaign has not explained well is that if this measure passes, money from the budget that would have gone to repairing buildings will be freed up to be spent on keeping libraries open and perhaps bringing programs back. If it doesn't pass, the money will have to be used to repair buildings, etc. and services to the schools will be cut even more. Also, my comment about the sex offenders was based on issues cities in Illinois faced when they shut down neighborhood schools. Of course, there is no way of predicting whether this would happen in Newark, but I don't want to make the situation possible. There have also been numerous studies conducted that have found that the value of houses in the immediate vicinity of a known sex offender are lower than comparable houses farther away.
Mona Taplin November 05, 2011 at 07:41 PM
Those things are indeed very confusing Cara, and I think the school district could do a much better job of explaining the situation. After all, we aren't all trained bookeepers and we aren't all trained to reason out school budgets. IF G passes that money would go to do SOME of the repairs needed. Since the estimated need is $150 million, we still would fall very short of the mark. Measure G money can only by law go towards repairs,- not salaries etc. If it doesn't pass, more general fund type money would have to go to make SOME of those repairs and not towards programs. No matter what we do, there is not enough money in the school districts barrell to cover all of the needs. I voted yes for G to show my support for our new Superintendent of schools, who has a good reputation of working hard for the students. He can't create a miracle and get money off a tree, but I think he sounds like a person who will do the best possible job for the kids. As for sex offenders moving in if we sell schools, I really am not overly concerned about that happening. I certainly don't want it to happen anymore than YOU do, but I doubt if they will flock to this area when/if schools leave. Your kids go to Lincoln so we apparently live fairly close to each other. I do not have any family attending schools in this area, but I always have and always will care about all the children in this school district.
Mona Taplin November 05, 2011 at 07:44 PM
Continued,-- I also do not want to see any of our schools now in use for k12 education sold. I like neighborhood schools.
Adell November 06, 2011 at 08:40 PM
Cara- How can they "Free-up" money if they don't have enough to repair the schools anyway? It sounds like a lot smoke. I don't really think anyone knows the truth behind "G". The school district can not bring back programs when , as I said new teachers have to be English or math re: "NO CHILD LEFT BEHIND".
Fran November 08, 2011 at 04:48 PM
The sex offender thing is the most ridiculous justification I have ever heard in regards to justify a bond or any vote. In my entire life.

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