We have served as your district attorneys for the last 26 years. In addition to our years as chief law enforcement officers in the county, between us we have more than four decades of experience as trial lawyers prosecuting cases in our local courts.
In our experience, there were common characteristics among the thousands of individuals we encountered who became trapped on the wrong side of the criminal justice system. Most were functionally illiterate. Most lacked exposure to the grand ideals of history, literature and philosophy. Too few experienced the opportunity to meaningfully compete in the classroom or on the playing field. We have witnessed the cost to society and it is immeasurable.
We have also witnessed Band Aid-like attempts by our state government to refine the juvenile laws. Their approaches have been ineffective in protecting our communities. In our opinion, it is better to invest on the front end.
Schools make a real difference. And in our community, we are very fortunate to have fine schools and some of the best, most dedicated teachers in the state. These teachers and these schools save lives by diverting children from criminal activity. They do it every day by inspiring kids, showing youngsters they are part of something bigger than themselves, that they can lead, that they can make a difference and be proud, productive members of society.
And to keep our teachers doing this critically important work, they need your help.
Fully half of the schools in our district are severely overcrowded. And Visalia continues to grow. Growth is a good thing, but with growth comes responsibility. Overcrowding in our schools means that fewer students get to participate in sports, band, drama and other activities that help them learn important life lessons. Overcrowding can mean multiple lunch periods, which interferes with the learning schedule. Overcrowding means inadequate bathrooms. Overcrowding leads to the use of expensive portable classrooms, but portables don’t address the increased need for other spaces, such as libraries, bathrooms, cafeterias and gyms.
Measure A is a local proposal for raising needed funds to save our older schools sorely in need of upgrades, and it provides the needed funding base for a new high school. We are supporting Measure A because it is local. The funds raised will be spent locally and done in accordance with a facilities master plan that is locally controlled.
For these reasons, we urge you to vote for the passage of Measure A on the November ballot.
Tim Ward is the current Tulare County district attorney. Phil Cline is the retired DA for Tulare County.
Visalia’s Measure A
If approved, $105.3 million in bonds would be sold. The money would be used to upgrade classrooms, labs and computer systems to support science and technology, English, arts and math. Proceeds would also help prevent school/classroom overcrowding; and improve school safety and security. An independent board would provide oversight and no funds would pay for administrators. Cost to property owners: $36 per 100,000 of assessed value.