University Times

El Monte Could Get A Huge Boost — a $190M bond — for High Schools

Isaac Gutierrez, Contributing Writer

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More science labs with actual equipment, laptops for each student, and safe classroom doors that lock from inside are a few of the services that a local $190 million bond measure on the November ballot could buy for the six schools of the El Monte Union High School District. El Monte, in the eastern part of Los Angeles County, has an estimated 116,000 residents, including nearly a quarter who live at or below the poverty line, as indicated by 2010 U.S. Census.

The district’s board placed Measure HS on the ballot to help retain quality teachers, upgrade school safety and upgrade its laboratories.

In order to pay back this bond however, homeowners will be taxed $30 for every $100,000 of assessed property value.

Superintendent Edward Zuniga told the University Times that the bond funds can only be applied for safety and educational needs.

“Most importantly, this measure would allow our high schools to be competitive,” he said.

“Kids are shopping around and looking for the best high schools. If our best high schools don’t look good, then we’re going to lose kids”, added Zuniga.

 

The bond money can also be used to repaint and restructure schools.

“If you have paint that is chipping and walls that are deteriorating, then no one is going to want to go to that school. If the classrooms are not equipped with the technology needed to teach in the 21st century, teachers are going to leave.” said Zuniga.

The funds are not intended to be used to pay for salaries, including teachers and supervisors.  

Zuniga said that doors cannot be locked from the inside – posing a major safety issue – so what happens is that teachers don’t like to lock their doors because people constantly entering and exiting classrooms.

“In case of an active shooter, teachers have to go outside to lock the doors. So what this [bond] will provide us, maybe we replace the doors so they lock from the inside,” said Zuniga.

 

Some teachers in the district support this measure and agree that the school district is in need of improvements. Maria Vera, a math teacher at South El Monte High School, is in favor of this measure because she thinks it will benefit test scores.

“We need to have more computer labs. In order for the students to perform better on the online testing, we need more labs for them to practice in,” said Vera.

Michael LeGaspe, a science teacher at South El Monte, said he has been using a class with no equipment.

“Students…are literally the future of society so they need the proper tools for education,” he said.

“I’ve been teaching this way for 11 years and been able to make do. Obviously, some upgrading is long overdue”, he added.

However, some El Monte residents are concerned that this measure will increase their rent.

“Folks who rent may be affected. If the homeowner sees that their taxes are going up, they may increase the rent,” Zuniga said.

El Monte resident Miguel Reynoso had this to say about Measure HS.

“I’m not saying I am against the bond, but it is going to make it tougher for me because my landlord is for sure going to increase my rent. Also, how can we make sure that the money really does go towards the schools?”

 

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