ESUSD board agrees not to take away Benton money

Parents in the Benton area strongly objected this week when they heard Eastern Sierra Unified School District would consider re-allocating bond money for a new gymnasium at Benton School to other


District Superintendent Don Clark said state government developments have made school funding sparse.

school projects.

This issue came up of a meeting of the Eastern Sierra School Board in Bridgeport on Wednesday.  The citizens’ bond oversight committee recommended that the school board consider reallocating bond funds reserved for the Benton campus gym to other eligible capital projects in the district. School District Superintendent Dr. Don Clark said state money for capital improvements and maintenance has dried up.  He said the choices are tough and the needs are considerable.

Mono Supervisor Hap Hazard represents the Tri-Valley area.  He emailed the media to say that he received word that the Eastern Sierra Unified School District would discuss taking away about $4 million of Proposition 39 bond money  from the Tri-Valley area.  Hazard said the money was targeted for a new gym at the Benton School.  Hazard focused on the issue and attended the school board meeting in Bridgeport along with Benton School principal, Steven Childs and others.

Supervisor Hazard told the board that the community had supported the original bond measure and had been promised a new school in Chalfant.  That promise was transformed into the new gym for Benton. Officials considered scrapping that idea since, Dr. Clark said, student numbers in Benton have dropped from nearly 100 to 38.  He said the countywide bond money could help with roof projects, blacktop, two boilers and other heating and air conditioning needs throughout the district.

Supervisor Hazard said, “It would be morally and ethically wrong to take the Tri-Valley citizens’ money just because you could.”  Hazard said he told the board that many Tri-Valley citizens, without children, are paying for the bond through their taxes.  Hazard said the bond money should not go to other areas.  “This proposal involved not just 30-40 kids and their families,” he said, “but also about 1,000 taxpayers.”

Hazard suggested that the school board hold off on the issue to see if Governor Brown’s ballot measure passes which would provide money for schools.  Hazard said the school board did vote to end the discussion of taking money away from Benton.  He said they also recommitted to the gym construction.  They do want a redesign of the gym to lower costs. Superintendent Clark said $1.5 million has already been spent on Benton School along with projects in other schools.  Clark expects more money troubles ahead for the district.

More on school issues at a meeting of the Benton/Hammil Regional Planning Advisory Committee meeting Monday, January 23, 6:30pm at the Benton Community Center and at the Chalfant RPAC meeting on Thursday, January 26, at the same time at the Chalfant Community Center.

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4 Responses to ESUSD board agrees not to take away Benton money

  1. Greg Young January 30, 2012 at 2:31 pm #

    Great! In order to keep a so called promise the Eastern Sierra Board of Education is going to spend 4 million precious dollars on a gym for 38 students. By the way, after its built you will have the additional expense of maintaining it, lighting it, heating it, etc. More money that you don’t have and won’t have for a long time to come. Let me repeat that . . . you won’t have for a long time to come.

    Since there has been a voiced concern over promises not kept, loss of trust, and a need for community support in the future, how about this: assume the 1,000 people was an accurate number. Give them each a $1,000 refund for the school taxes paid over the last 10 years. Then take the remaining $3,000,000 and spend it on what makes sense. You don’t have the money to blow $4,000,000 on a gym to fulfill a promise made when money was more plentiful. Face the facts and spend the money like every dime is coming out of your own pocket.

  2. allen berrey January 20, 2012 at 12:21 pm #

    Like most politicians, Hap Hazard is very good at spending other people’s money. In this case, it appears he wants to use school money to build a rec. center/gym for the residents – not just the students – in Benton. If Hap and those residents need/want a gym so badly, then it seems to me that Mono County, and not the ESUSD, should pay for it. Thanks.

    • Eamon January 23, 2012 at 5:13 pm #

      Agreed and if school funds are being utilized to build a gym then only students and school functions should use it; it shouldn’t become some “multipurpose room” available to the community like this will become.

  3. Eamon McNamara January 19, 2012 at 9:17 pm #

    I hate to be the bearer of bad news but in troubling economic times schools, police, and fire are not a “sacred cow” that shouldn’t be spared budget cuts that other services receive. Spending this kind of money on a “gym” in Benton to serve ~40 students is a frivolous waste of taxpayer money, especially when there are countless vacant buildings in Benton.


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