Tournament Hills Elementary Parking Expansion Is Delayed

At the board meeting this week, the Beaumont Unified School Board received a preliminary report on the state standardized test scores, reviewed their facility fees, and decided on a proposal to address the parking and traffic problems at Tournament Hills Elementary.

Assistant Superintendent of Instructional Support Dr. Christina Goennier presented a PowerPoint presentation on the preliminary results from the state standardized tests. The test scores were a mixed bag of results. Since the final numbers won’t be available until sometime in October, I will hold off going into too many details here. I think the presentation was useful and provided some insight on what the final results will show. I have suggested to Dr. Goennier that the district should make these types of presentations available on the website as video podcasts in order to reach more parents. She told me it was an interesting suggestion and would look into it. I will contact her and find out if the Power Point will be posted to the district site and provide a link if it is.

There was some good test results news regarding Mountain View Middle School’s but not for Palm Elementary. Mountain View had a very impressive increase in their results over previous years and may be very close to pulling the school out of program improvement; we will have to wait for the final numbers.  Palm’s results revealed the school will now be in its third straight year as a program improvement school. This leaves the district a couple years to turn it around. Once again I would like to encourage the school board to act now and do something significant to help our Palm families. In another two years, their options will be severly limited.

The board spent a few minutes discussing the facilities fee schedules and they came to the conclusion the fees were justified but that they should do a better job presenting the details on the district’s website. Mrs. De Longchamp pointed out the fees the district charges for use of the high school’s theater were considerably higher than Redlands’ theater and forced some of our community groups to hold programs out of town. There didn’t seem to be too many other board members sharing her concerns. Dr. Kayrell said the addition of the new sports facilities warranted a review of all the fee schedules in the near future.

The highlight, or in my opinion the lowlight, of the evening was the discussion and action taken by the board surrounding the Tournament Hills parking proposal. The board was presented with three options to consider adding 45 new parking spaces and alleviating the traffic congestion around the school. There was a significant increase in the cost of the project from earlier estimates that concerned the board. The district’s architect provided reasons why the increase of about $50,000 over the preliminary plan proposed in January 2012 brought the total cost to about $350,000. To a layman, such as myself, his explanations were sound and the project made sense. It appeared the project was headed for approval but Board Member Mr. Orozco had other ideas.

Mr. Orozco was concerned that such a large amount of money would be coming from Measure Z funds and he believed the project should be put on hold until the board was able to hold a workshop to discuss funding alternatives. His amendment to the motion to approve the project died for the lack of a second from one of his colleagues. As the discussion turned to alternative funding possibilities, the rest of the board members decided in favor of holding the issue over for a future meeting and voted 5-0 to wait for a workshop to explore all funding options.

I was surprised and disappointed. Our school boards and administration justified spending $15.5 million on the new sports complex because of a single line in the Measure Z text that referenced “improving physical education” but multiple mentions in the same text about improving the pick-up and drop off areas around our schools and addressing safety issues was not enough for this board to approve the sorely needed expansion. Board President Mrs. Lara pointed out to her colleagues that these types of projects were exactly what Measure Z was supposed to address.

Don’t get me wrong, I have always argued for a new stadium and I am really looking forward to tomorrow night’s game in the new stadium, my concern has always been the amount of the Measure Z funds that were being used. I was worried there wouldn’t be enough left to fund the safety projects most parents thought would be addressed. Improving the safety around our schools is what many of us thought we were voting for when we approved Measure Z. Once again, safety around our schools will have to wait.