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Andre Hollings: Messina: Right man, right time

Right Here, Right Now

Posted: October 8, 2009 7:20 p.m.
Updated: October 9, 2009 4:55 a.m.

Presently, the Golden State’s K-12 public schools suffer abysmally low rankings in math and science scores, graduation and college-going rates, and the like when compared to the nation’s K-12 public schools.
Particularly precarious is California’s K-12 public education ranking regarding integrating technology into the curriculum (e.g. online offerings). On the school technology index, we rank 49th.  
Bottom line: The K-12 public education system that was once the envy of a nation has decayed into an object of shame.  
Despite the proverbial ground sinking in around it, the Santa Clarita Valley has continued to be home to a stellar host of public schools.
This SCV exceptionalism is partly due to residents demanding determination, accountability and progress at the local school board level.
Yet now, this demand — and its attendant successes — face a decisive opportunity: the Nov. 3 Hart district school board elections.  
A local school board serves as the immediate policy-making apparatus of its school district. It is charged with oversight and final approval of contract negotiations with employee unions, curriculum material, annual budget adoptions, new school construction, school calendars and so forth.

As education is a reflection of a community’s values, a school board ought to seek the implementation and nurturing of those values in discharging its duties.

Place that reflection and those responsibilities within the socioeconomic context that is devastating California’s schools, and it becomes clear Joe Messina ought to be elected to the Hart district school board on Nov. 3.  

Regarding fiscal matters, determination, accountability and progress have proven to be Messina’s first principles. While consistently supportive of the need for and aims of bond Measure SA, Messina was doggedly opposed to “doing business the same way” in implementing the bond.

After the substandard handling of Measure V, which necessitated Measure SA at twice the cost to correct Measure V’s failures, Messina demanded a clear and honest budget and plan for implementing Measure SA. Though always supportive of Measure SA, he was determined to sever the mentality that had spawned Measure V.

His push-back helped lead to the formation of the interactive Measure SA committee, which delivered accountability and progress by giving honest input both before money was spent and during design and implementation of projects.  

Messina’s philosophy is, “If we make good decisions, put them out there, and let people know what we are doing. If we make poor decisions, let people know what’s going on and how we are correcting those issues.”

That thinking breeds determination, accountability and progress, and Measure SA is a prime example.  

Those same first principles of determination, accountability and progress are at the nexus of what Messina calls “the No. 1 facility priority for the Hart district:” securing a site for the “much-needed Castaic High School.”  

Rather than continuing to place all the district’s eggs in one possibly bottomless basket, thereby exhausting our hopes and time, Messina believes “the Hart district should pursue two potential sites concurrently to expedite the site selection.”  

That’s progress and determination.

Likewise, utilizing the “great local resources we can use for input and wisdom to complete projects,” Messina firmly believes the Hart district must actually reach out to Castaic and Val Verde residents (normally the last ones invited to the district’s party) to “ensure community concerns are taken into account.”

This is a stark departure from the heavy-handed bureaucratic ritual usually employed by the Hart district. That is accountability.

And in a community where the population continues to balloon valley-wide, with inevitable repercussions in the classroom, Messina is highly concerned with overcrowding, not only in Castaic and Val Verde, but also in Valencia and West Ranch high schools.  

Thus, building a Castaic High School gets to the city’s responsibility to mitigate classroom overcrowding and its effects on students ­— a responsibility Messina is determined to discharge.  

Beyond policy proposals and positions, I am concerned with the type of person I will vote for on Nov. 3.

That is to say, character. Not being one who suffers fools and glib answers, I can truthfully say that Messina is the same when talking to you as when your back is turned — ask around. Messina is nothing if not a man of probity.

His first principles of determination, accountability and progress are self-derived from a character of the same stock.  

Couple that character with said policy positions, and the onus is now placed upon you to vote Messina Nov. 3.

F. Andre Hollings is a Santa Clarita resident. His column reflects his own views and not necessarily those of The Signal. “Right Here, Right Now!” appears Fridays in The Signal and rotates among local Republican writers.


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