My name is Jillian Anais Ortiz Cruz and I am a third year Psychology and Social Welfare double major at the University of California, Berkeley and the Organizing Captain of Students for Education Reform (SFER).
It is with disappointment as a WCCUSD alum that I stand here today to discuss the actions that have been taken in regards to the bonds program. I want to talk specifically about the mismanagement the 1.6 billion dollar program. Just two weeks ago at the April 13th board meeting three of you voted to approve another 32 million dollars to continue the construction and expansion of Pinole Valley High School. This estimated final cost of the Pinole Valley High campus is now 250 million dollars, which is 15% of the entire bond program. There are still 21 schools remaining, 21 schools with thousands of families that were promised a remodel or new facility for their children.
Dr. Harter, with all due respect, it baffles me that you write on the district website: “The reality is that WCCUSD has outstanding financial management,” when you’ve decided to invest such an excessive amount of money on one campus. Meanwhile, my alma mater high school (Richmond High School) almost 4 years after my graduation still does not have windows, while Helms middle school classrooms do not have extension cords or adapters for teachers to properly utilize their technology, while Kennedy High School feels like a prison.
It is understandable that the community cannot trust the board when you continue to make unfair decisions. You initially promised equity for all students with this program, yet the decisions made thus far do not reflect equity. Equity will be when I see another $250 million dollars spent on Richmond and Kennedy High schools, but sadly this is no longer possible since out of the 1.6 billion there is only 168 million dollars left to renovate these and the other 19 facilities that are left.
To be clear, I understand the importance of and support facilities, renovation, and beautification. But the spending has been excessive, and the projects have been based on scope, not budget reality. Lastly, I want to thank Liz Block and Valerie Cuevas for being brave, asking questions, and raising your concerns about the mismanagement of funds. We need more board members like you who will stand up for what’s in the best interest of ALL students in WCCUSD. Thank you.