Just fix the pool

By Dave Patterson

It’s pretty hard for me to be sympathetic for the guy down the street. He had a big debt load, new house and car, plus a huge balloon payment looming. His swimming pool had some cracks, broken ladders and failing pumps.

Because he thinks big, not prudently, he decided rather than fix the pool he would bulldoze the thing and build a huge aquatic center. In his mind there would always be plenty of money, so he was bewildered when he went bankrupt and lost everything.

More importantly, he couldn’t understand when his neighbors refused to help him out financially, and why none of them felt empathy for his situation.

The poor decision maker in this story is how I see the Ramona Unified School District, where the decision makers always think big. As an example, the swimming pool at the high school needs repairs. The repair ideas have recently ballooned into what might end up a large community aquatic center, paid for with grants, and potentially through the school bond that will be floated in the future. So, rather than just fix the pool, we are looking at more debt and potentially more maintenance cost into the future. Somehow bigger and better has trumped fiscal prudence regarding the high school swimming pool.

The fact that the district does not have the money to fix the pool, or the roofs, or the carpets, or to install good soap dispensers in the bathrooms, is compounded by looming COP payments that will cripple the operating budgets, unless a bond is passed, or as the bond can be characterized, a sympathetic neighbor donating $30M.

We don’t really need an aquatic center for the community, and having one built as part of the school bond would be a liability toward passing a school bond in my view, rather than a way to garner support for it.

I base my viewpoint in the people I talk to, people who want to see fiscal constraints in place before they will consider voting for a school bond. Regarding the community aquatic center, the people in the Estates already have pools to use. The people in town and across the valley that have the means already have pools, and these two groups of voters aren’t likely to see the benefit in paying more taxes to build a community aquatic center.

The people left are those living within their means who don’t like our taxes being used on unnecessary projects, and those without means who aren’t likely to vote anyway. I see the community aquatic center as having the real potential to be a school bond killer.

How can we show some fiscal prudence to potential school bond voters? Just fix the pool.

Dave Patterson is a Ramona resident.

   
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