As a candidate for Culver City Council last year, I made a point of talking to residents, whether door-to-door or at candidate forums and coffees, about the advantages Culver City offers and why it is such a great place to live and work.
We have fabulous weather, a thriving downtown, great parks, close-knit residential neighborhoods, outstanding cultural and recreational activities, safe streets, close access to public transit and excellent response times from our police and fire services.
But equally important is the quality of our Culver City schools, and this is especially true for the Millennials of Generation Y. These are the young adults who are part of Culver City’s burgeoning creative community and are key to our economic revitalization. Many of them are part of young families who want to settle in affordable communities—like Culver City—with good public services and high-quality schools.
The educational opportunities provided by Culver City schools are outstanding and are verified by the high scores our students achieve on standardized tests and the high level of placement and achievement of our graduates in college.
But, whereas the quality of education is outstanding, the classrooms themselves—and the buildings they are in—are in bad shape and in desperate need of repairs. Perception can be a stronger influence than reality, and the perception of those looking to settle in Culver City might be that our schools are not very good because they don’t look good.
I recently attended a community workshop in which the condition of our schools was discussed in detail. The problems go way beyond how our schools look from the outside. Our classrooms, bathrooms and drinking foundations all need significant repairs to bring them up to health and safety codes and comply with the federal Americans with Disabilities Act.
Major upgrades are needed for plumbing, electrical wiring and heating and air conditioning units. Playground surfaces are cracked. Robert Frost Auditorium at the high school could use a facelift that would make it more usable and attractive not only for the Academy of Performing and Visual Arts but also for outside groups that might rent the facility.
And then there is the Natorium and what should be done to restore it as an indoor swimming pool or convert it into a multi-purpose building. But something should be done.
As an elected official in Culver City, I want to ensure that Culver City remains a great and safe location to live and work. That was Harry Culver’s vision in creating our city and it remains a great vision today. Investing in our schools is vital to maintaining our quality of life and protecting the values of our homes, businesses and properties.
So I hope that the Culver City Unified School District staff and board will place a bond measure to refurbish our school facilities before the voters of Culver City at the earliest possible time. The survey conducted by the School District indicated that 67% of the respondents would support a bond measure, well above the necessary 55% for passage.
Delaying a vote and the refurbishment of school facilities would only add to the perception that we don’t value education in Culver City. That is one perception we don’t want to become a reality.
Jim B. Clarke