My name is Luis Ledesma and I am a first year Community and Regional Development major at UC Davis. I am the Co-Chapter Leader for Students For Education Reform at UC Davis, and I am here today with my community to advocate for all students in the WCCUSD.
Growing up in Richmond, I had to deal with struggles I had no control over. I’ll never forget when my fifth grade teacher from Downer Elementary School, broke the board with his fist and threw a chair at my friend Jesse. Our parents and community felt powerless because when we voiced our concerns there was no action taken by the trustees on the school board.
Today, our concerns continue to be ignored. Earlier this month, Superintendent Bruce Harter posted a message on the district website titled “Financial Stewardship WCCUSD” where he claimed our concerns over the district’s fiscal responsibility were just myths. I do not believe it’s a myth that a $1.6 billion bond program has been mismanaged for years.
Here are the facts: These bonds were passed for a school district that serves 30,000 students. However, on April 13th three board members approved to use another $32 million dollars for Pinole Valley High, where the construction costs are now nearing $250 million dollars. 15% of the entire bond program was used on 1 school. ONE SCHOOL. There are 50 schools in WCCUSD. This is not the first time you approve excessive construction costs for 1 single school.
My issue is this--voters trusted you to give their children safe campuses and if you had scaled back on these excessive projects you could have delivered safe, beautiful buildings to so many more students and families. I agree with Valerie Cuevas and Liz Block and I’m proud of them for being ethical, fair and brave and asking the hard questions you simply ignore. This board had a responsibility to come up with a plan that would save resources for more students in the district.
You want us to trust you but you continue to make poor decisions. I urge you to start doing what is best for ALL STUDENTS. The SFER coalition is here to advocate for all kids. We want you to start doing the same.