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Subscribers will have access to board meeting previews before each board meeting that is designed to inform parents and taxpayers about up-coming board Items. The format will allow the reader to digest a 500 - 1000 page board agenda in minutes. The goal is to help parents and the public be more informed about Board actions, and to allow the Public to have a stronger voice in shaping Board policy.
After each meeting subscribers will receive a review informing them of Board Actions on all Agenda Items.
CUSDWatch is not affiliated with the Capistrano Unified School District. This web site was created by Dawn Urbanek, a long time advocate for CUSD students and taxpayers. Your information will not be shared with anyone. The purpose of this site is force transparency and accountability on the Capistrano Unified School District in order to improve the quality of education students receive, and protect the financial interest of taxpayers.
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For Students to Succeed, They Need Informed Parents.
Taxpayers Need an Informed Electorate
What Local Cities and Taxpayers learned from the November election, is that we all need to pay much closer attention to the actions of our local school districts and their Board of Trustees. A tremendous amount of new tax revenue is generated to fund public education every election cycle. According to Richard Michael of the California School Bonds Clearinghouse, the recent November election resulted in 187 of the 206 school measures on the ballot being passed, representing nearly $50 billion in future property taxes.
While taxpayers in South Orange County resoundingly voted No on Measure M (CUSD's $889 million dollar school facilities bond), the outcome could have been very different if local City Mayors, and other elected leaders had not opposed the measure as a bad deal for students and taxpayers. CUSD went out of its way to keep Measure M under the radar. Not one City Council was made aware of the bond during ad hoc meetings with the District over the past year. When CUSD started to market its facilities needs, and I discovered that our facilities were in such bad shape, I was shocked that a District would choose to give employees four consecutive years of across the board compensation increases totaling over $120 million dollars, while choosing not to spend $10 million to fix every leaky roof and failing HVAC system in the district first. I set up a meeting with the City Manager in my city, and asked how the city could help ensure that the health and safety of students would come first, before employee compensation increases. At that meeting I learned that Cities didn't actively follow local school districts since they had no control over the District actions. I sent a letter to every Mayor and City Council within CUSD boundaries to educate them about CUSD's $889 million dollar bond, and CUSD's choice to allow our students to attend school in substandard facilities so that employees could receive increased compensation.
As each City scheduled meetings with CUSD and requested presentations about the bond, it became very apparent to everyone that CUSD was not acting in good faith in placing Measure M on the November 2016 Ballot. There was no clear plan on how the money was to be spent. There was no sincere interest on the part of the District to work with elected leaders to ensure that the health and safety of students would be the CUSD's top priority.
Despite the short time frame, and against all odds, elected leaders and informed taxpayers worked to successfully defeat Measure M.
Now comes the hard work. Presentations about CUSD facilities has made everyone painfully aware of not only facilities needs within CUSD, but many other needs that our students have in order to reach their academic potential, and compete with their peers around the world. While we were successful in defeating Measure M, we were unable to replace a single incumbent Trustee on the Board due to the financial influence of both, the local Teachers Union (CUEA's Hope Foundation Political Pac) and the State CTA who also wrote checks to influence CUSD Trustee elections. Together they spent over $170,000.00 to ensure sitting Trustees will continue to make the economic interest of CUSD employees the number one priority within CUSD.
Taxpayers need to ensure that the actions of the Board are transparent, and that our elected Board members are held accountable for their decisions. No school district should be allowed to give out $120 million in across the board compensation increases while our students attend school in facilities that have not been fixed or maintained for the last 15 years. We need to come together as a community to ensure that our students are receiving the best education possible, and that our facilities are fixed and maintained. That will require greater awareness of school issues and Board actions so that we can ensure that the interests of students and taxpayers are being represented in all matters before the Board.
I have been following CUSD since 2008. First; as a Legislative Rep sitting on the Board of the PTA for my daughter's school, and latter as an interested taxpayer. I attend most Board of Trustee meetings, and often speak on behalf of students and taxpayers. District board agendas are usually 500 to 1,000 pages, and are difficult to read and understand. The only way to ensure that the CUSD community has a seat at the collective bargaining table is to have a quick and easy way to follow the CUSD Board of Trustees, and the collective bargaining process.
Over the past ten years I have accumulated a wealth of historical knowledge about the Capistrano Unified School District which allows me to quickly review CUSD agendas and pull out the items that are important to students and taxpayers. Understanding the hours of work it would take for each individual City and local business to follow CUSD board meetings, I have decided to offer a paid subscription service that will provide interested community members with an opportunity to participate in decisions affecting CUSD students and taxpayers BEFORE a decision is made by the Board.
No on Measure M ensured that home owners would not be faced with a $600 per year tax for the next 35 years without a guarantee that the money would be properly used to benefit students. That success of the No on Measure M campaign was the result of informed local elected leaders and taxpayers. Unfortunately we once again have a Union elected Board of Trustees that needs to be closely watched.