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VENTURA COUNTY PERSPECTIVE

What Is the Point of Success if Community Sells Short Its Kids?

April 29, 2001|TRENT VALLADARES | Trent Valladares is a Thousand Oaks resident

My wife and I live just up the street from Lang Ranch Elementary School. Along with countless others, we voiced our sincere concern regarding this school even before it was built because the site was obviously too small and did not have adequate access without disrupting the surrounding neighborhood--our neighborhood.

But as is often the case, our voices were ignored and the school was built.

I have now watched for three years as more and more houses were squeezed into the Lang Ranch community. The effects on the school have been exactly as expected.

After its first year in operation, portable classrooms were brought in to provide more space for an expanding student body. In the next two years, more and more portables were added. The children are quickly losing their recreation space. It is very sad.

Why do I care? My wife and I are expecting our first child. Like so many others, we have always felt good about raising a family in Thousand Oaks, in part because of its strong schools. In fact, at all of the new construction sites, potential homeowners are wooed by the promise of one of California's leading school districts.

The problem is that we are not providing additional school space at anything near the pace that we are constructing new housing. We say that we will not become like the San Fernando Valley but we are running, not walking, in that direction.

I simply can't reconcile myself to sending my child to school in portables, given the economic strength of our community. Lang Ranch is a very affluent area of Thousand Oaks; Thousand Oaks is a very affluent area of Ventura County; Ventura County is, by and large, a very affluent area of California; California is one of the wealthiest states in the country. And the United States is the wealthiest nation in the world in a time of unprecedented prosperity.

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So how can we possibly sell our children short?

We have all of the resources. All of these new homes are bringing new tax revenue into the city. I can tell you from my property tax bill alone that we are paying more than enough in taxes to support more than the small number of schools in our immediate area.

We need more schools. Our children should be attending the very best, most state-of-the-art facilities around. We have the means to provide this. But we aren't doing so.

Our children deserve to reap the fruits of our success. If we do not provide for them to the best of our abilities then we must ask ourselves the point of the success for which we all work so hard.

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