Editor,

Regarding the July 6 story, “South San Francisco school bond heading to ballot” with the line: “No one can learn and teach when they don’t feel safe.”

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(2) comments

John Baker

Oh, Mark Hinkle. Using the same form letter, just with new numbers, and spreading the same misleading statements (and often outright lies) that his organization always spreads whenever a community is asked to add a little to what they usually pay in order to cover one-time costs.

Lie: "Parent are voting with their feet and removing their children from this failure of a school district." Fact: US Census data shows the true cause of enrollment decline is that there are literally thousands of fewer children living in the District than in years past (South San Francisco’s age 5-19 population dropped from 11,679 in 2010 to 8,289 in 2019). Housing costs are the primary driver of that.

Misstatement: ADA spending for SSFUSD is 109% above the statewide average. Fact: Haven’t checked his numbers, but sounds about right. Yet Mark neglects to mention that the median rent for a two-bedroom apartment in San Mateo County is $3,553, compared to $1,526 in California as a whole – so a teacher would need to pay 233% more to live here! So of course SSFUSD needs to pay staff more (salaries are 80% of a school district’s budget, thus comprise 80% of per-pupil spending).

Misstatement: (Referring to 2010 bond that enhanced safety, fire detection and security systems, improve energy efficiency, replace outdated electrical, plumbing and heating systems) “So, … they’ll be back to solve the same issues ... again?” Fact: All those things were done. The 2022 bond would not be replacing those systems, they’ll be fixing the issues that weren’t addressed by the first bond. SSFUSD has 16 active campuses (including a pre-school), and not all were touched by the 2010 bond because it was shrunk down because of opposition such as that from Mark’s organization. In fact, as bond proponents expected, costs from deferred maintenance of untouched items grew over time.

Misstatement: “Around 53% of students are below grade level in English. Around 62% of student are below grade level in math.” Fact: I can’t argue with the numbers, but context matters: About 46% of SSFUSD students are learning English or from low-income or foster families, and I’m sure that’s an undercount because some families are reluctant to share data. There are extra challenges in bringing that population up to that standard, and our local educators will not give up on them. But making those students go to school in decaying, outdated facilities will not help.

Mark Hinkle, who literally posts “taxation is theft” all over social media, and the Silicon Valley Taxpayers Association continue their battle against equity and their acceptance of a declining status quo. Fact: The K-12 bond burden in the South San Francisco Unified School District is the lowest in San Mateo County (most areas in the County have both elementary and high school bonds to pay). If this bond measure passes, it would still be the third-lowest and be predominantly borne by the commercial and industrial property owners who helped make this one of the most-expensive places to live in the world in the first place.

Disclaimer: I am president of the South San Francisco Unified School District's Board, but am not writing on its behalf. This response was written, uncompensated, on my own time.

tarzantom

Most of these school bonds are riddled with the same buzzwords and unfortunately voters fall for them. Everyone thinks someone else is going to pay the bill. No folks, it is you and I.

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