Before they called their schools ‘deteriorating,’ Santa Ana officials called them ‘exemplary’

Call it a tale of two school districts: The Santa Ana Unified School District (SAUSD) is sending out conflicting messages regarding the status of its schools: their facilities are amazingly good — unless they’re amazingly bad.

According to the School Accountability Report Cards (SARCs) posted on the SAUSD website, all of the district’s high schools are in “good” or even “exemplary” shape. But in promoting a bond measure on the November ballot, district officials say they’re struggling with “deteriorating systems.”

SARCs are state-required reports meant to provide parents and community members with an update of local school facilities. Schools are rated on such safety measures as fire hazards, structural integrity, overall cleanliness, and electrical/water systems.

SAUSD rated six of their 10 high schools “exemplary,” and declared the other four “good.” Yet the SAUSD Twitter account paints a different, very bleak picture. In promoting a $479 million bond measure on the November ballot, the district says its campuses are plagued by failing heating and ventilation systems, aging portable classrooms, and “deteriorating systems.”

SAUSD Tweets: Our schools are terrible.

Further, surveys sent out by the SAUSD to potential voters ask respondents to rank priorities in spending money from the proposed bond: upgrading classroom facilities, repairing deteriorating roofs and electrical systems, replacing failing heating and ventilation systems, and other measures. That catalogue of collapsing structures fails to match with the SARC reports in every way possible.

The surveys are part of a high-priced campaign managed by TBWB, the district’s bond consultant. They’re intended to excite voters about the potential of state-of-the-art facilities becoming a reality in the district.

SAUSD parents and community members need to know the truth behind these contradictions. The schools are either in exemplary condition or deteriorating. Or perhaps they’re deteriorating in exemplary fashion.

Kelly McGee is a Rhodes College graduate and a journalism intern at California Policy Center.