How These Public Schools Went from ‘Exemplary’ to 'Deteriorating' in Just Months

Just months before they told the public they need billions of dollars in new tax revenue for school repairs, school district officials across California were telling the state Department of Education a very different story: their facilities are in “good” condition — even “exemplary.”

The glowing self-assessments are contained in School Accountability Report Cards reviewed by California Policy Center.

In exchange for state funding, all public schools in California must publish annual SARCs to “provide the public with important information about each public school and to communicate a school’s progress in achieving its goals.”

School districts – under the leadership of the superintendent or deputy superintendent – are responsible for completing the SARCs and accurately representing the state of each school. They rank the condition of each facility ­– “good,” “fair,” or “poor” ­– and give an overall rating. After being published by the district and submitted to the California Department of Education, the report cards are made available to the general public.

A letter from Brea-Olinda Unified School District (BOUSD) superintendent Brad Mason announces a $288 million bond will enable that north Orange County district to repair “old and deteriorating schools.” The result will be “safe, healthy and modern learning environments.”

But in December, BOUSD schools reported that all features of each of its facilities were in at least  “good” condition, and that every facility was generally “exemplary.” A few months after that SARC report, Mason told voters that only a tax hike could address the district’s “serious school facility issues.”

South of BOUSD, in Huntington Beach, Ocean View School District officials claim they need a $319 million tax increase for “essential repairs and improvements.” But district officials had just reported that six out of the 11 elementary schools were in overall “exemplary” condition. The other five were in “good” condition. All four middle schools were also rated “good” overall.

Catrin Thorman is a California Policy Center fall Journalism Fellow. She is a graduate of Azusa Pacific University, and a former Teach for America corps member in Phoenix, Arizona.

3 replies
  1. Alan Day says:

    You need a totally independent assessment of school conditions by an out of state company with no political connection.

  2. A.H. Pond says:

    I am sick of calls for new taxes, bond issues for schools and education programs… It is all bull…
    it never gets down to the kids. Education adminstrators have no clue how to maintain the buildings
    and grounds. They do know how to keep milking stupid taxpayers for more money. Start using
    the money for maintanence, if people don’t do the jobs they are paid to do, FIRE THEM. Oh thats rights
    the unions control the money not the taxpayers so can’t do that. Oh and by the way lets keep throwing
    money at free stuff for for the freeloaders in the state.

  3. Robert S says:

    I agree w/both these people…and add; we should start a class action lawsuit against the writers of these proposi-tions&measures when they are proven “frivolous”

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