Concerning measure C, the school deposit on the next ballot. The recent statement by the US Congress and Navy on the importance and future of the China Lake Laboratory bodes well for our future. Once the reconstruction is complete, China Lake will be the most modern and efficient laboratory and test area of the Ministry of Defense. China Lake has always succeeded in recruiting high-level scientists, engineers and management professionals; but, a modern facility will be a huge attractor. Retaining the workforce has been the challenge, and it will continue in the future. A new lab will also help, but the community plays a bigger role. Many local organizations have joined forces to improve the quality of life (QoL) in the IWV. Our schools are a major factor in the quality of life equation.
As it stands, when the reconstruction is complete, we will have a state-of-the-art laboratory in China Lake and many old and dilapidated school facilities. Measure C is a critical step to address this. Without Measure C, our school district has little means to improve our school facilities. Measure C was recommended by a group of citizens who examined the state of our schools and the public inquiry which established priorities for correction. Measure C is a modest bond measure that would correct the highest priority need, our college. He shuts down Monroe for educational purposes. It is one of our oldest schools (1950). Measure C will allow for a consolidation of grades 7 and 8 at Murray, our newest school (2017). It also establishes a 6th grade school in Vieweg, which has recently been modernized. The deposit as proposed and planned is a prudent step towards improving our school facilities for our children. If passed, it means a modest increase in our property taxes. According to the Kern County assessor, the median estimated value of the Ridgecrest property in 2020 was $136,827; this means that the median increase in property taxes would be $82 per year or about $7 per month (the tax will be based on $60 per $100,000 of assessed value of the property, not its value Merchant).
Even though the average estimated property value in Ridgecrest was two or three times higher, I think it’s a small investment to provide our children with a better learning environment, especially in their early school years. As some have pointed out, this plan will mean that our students will experience an additional transition, but I think the benefits outweigh the risks. It allows for more efficient use of teachers, administrators and support staff. This eliminates the need to maintain one of our oldest and most difficult schools. It consolidates academic programs (including STEM) and strengthens the offer in foreign languages, arts/music, technical vocational education (CTE) programs, and it maintains an accelerated path to higher level courses for interested students. It maintains our current student/teacher ratio.
Measure C is only intended to improve our school facilities, not administrative offices or salaries. It will also provide the means to initiate a transition to solar energy, a step that helps reduce operating expenses. Savings here can be used at district schools. Measure C is essential for the retention of local employees and for the development of our young people. The advantages of Measure C far outweigh the slight increase in taxes and the disadvantages of an additional transition. I vote for measure C and I hope you do too.
Scott O’Neil, Ridgecrest