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Guest Opinion: Where Does ABCUSD Go Now?


By Gavin Riley

Whenever prospective home buyers are looking, their checklist of most important considerations, located somewhere between square footage and kitchen amenities, is the local school system.

For years realtors have loved to promote the ABC School District where the quality of education in its renowned schools drives up home prices 5 to 10 percent.  Led by bell weather Whitney High, which every year ranks among the best in the country and the only five time national Blue Ribbon school, along with overall academic excellence, ABC is a source of community pride.

One would think this pride, coupled with the perfect environment of historically low interest rates and the need to bring schools all at least forty years old into the 21st century, was the ideal moment to pass a school bond measure.

Over a hundred other school districts agreed and 80% of them passed bonds including all of the districts around ABC.  Shockingly, the bond measure here did not pass or even come close.

Everyone agrees that the schools need major upgrading but the big question is, “What does the district do in this aftermath?”

There is no shortage of explanations about why the bond failed in a place where the schools are revered.

It was apathy, as the 31% turnout showed.

It was complacency, including a city council member saying test scores were high already and upgrading wasn’t needed.

It was misinformation, with a former school board member declaring in an op-ed that employees received an average of $30,000 each in pay raises over the last two years.

It was the aging population on fixed income whose children had already gone thru school and did not feel obligated.

It was the general dislike for taxation… and many more.

Add to this fact free websites and you have the recipe for the outcome.  This does not explain how other districts facing the same headwinds were successful or how this reality will be addressed in any future bond measure.

Other solutions besides a bond have come forward but all of them amount to educational quackery.

A suggestion to close schools and sell the land in some of the other six cities served by ABC doesn’t raise much money, is a long drawn out process, and has a NIMBY tinge to it.

Throwing inter-district students out is both illegal and immoral to say nothing of costing far more in state student revenue than could be saved.

Cutting salaries (beyond the phantom $30,000) in a district that already struggles to remain competitive salary wise is an open invitation to a mass exodus of the talented staff achieving all that academic success.

Merging ABC with one of the surrounding school districts is as dopey as it sounds, although ironically since they all passed bond issues our community would assume their bond obligation as the price to be adopted.

Sadly, in the absence of any useful ideas the finger pointing has begun in earnest.

One local website that opposed the bond published a “hit list” of supporters they intend to get even with.

The School Board majority bypassed a leadership position for the one board member who opposed the bond figuring that having dished the advice of the district management, how could that person be effective in leading and being its public face.

Wolfing about who was tearing down yard signs during the election is the only dialogue going on.

Meanwhile, the future of 21,000 students is ignored.

The simple truth is, ABC must go after a school facilities bond again in 2016, the next time it is possible.  There is no “Plan B” or one would be implemented somewhere by now.  The state already pays 85% of the cost of educating ABC students under Proposition 98 and Governor Brown has stated clearly that state matching funds to fix schools as was done in ABC in 1997 after a much smaller bond was passed is not an option any longer.

The local public needs to understand that a valuable asset like a local school district needs constant upgrading or it becomes a liability.  The language of education which once was calculators and textbooks has been replaced by bandwidth, networks and chrome books, all more expensive and ever changing.

Gavin Riley is chief negotiator for the California Federation of Teachers and a retired ABC Unified School District teacher.



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I was a student of the ABCUSD back in 1997 during the mentioned “passed bond measure”. What glorious days those were… I remember it all so vividly! During the rainy season we were asked by our teachers to monitor the overflowing trash cans we used to collect the rain water that leaked / poured through our classroom from the ceiling. The SAME ceilings that were “improved” with the funds. Ask me what I learned during my fast times at Gahr High…. I won’t reciete Edgar Allan Poe, nor recall what emotions I grasped while reading Animal Farm- NO, no! This… Read more »

Gavin Riley
Gavin Riley

I never comment or even read postings from people who do not have the courage to include their name(They must be too embarrassed of what they are writing), but the posting from UHA or someone posing as their spokesman is noteworthy. I wonder how much support exists for closing Whitney High School(#16 on the list). Maybe someone else from the UHA would like to expand on the thinking here or reject it out of hand. Due to the collapse of housing values that closing the school would trigger, I will add this to the list of dopey ideas for right… Read more »

A Mind is a Terrible Thing to Waste
A Mind is a Terrible Thing to Waste

Mr. Gavin Riley > You wrote, “I never comment or even read postings from people who do not have the courage to include their name(They must be too embarrassed of what they are writing), …” A quick history lesson. Our Founding Father used false or assumed names in many articles published for public consumption. Surly, you are not implying these great men or courage and sacrifice were too embarrassed to promote and defend liberty under their real names. On a less grand scale are the great American writings of Samuel Langhorne Clemens. You may know him by his assumed name… Read more »

Trustee | L Johnson | Real Winner's Circle
Trustee | L Johnson | Real Winner's Circle

ABC Board Member Lynda Johnson Is Still the Heroine Dan E. Nino, December 25, 2014 The recent reorganization of the ABC School Board was a tense night to say the least. Some ABC School Board members went to electing their officers fraught with vindictiveness and anger. There was civility in public but you could sense in their demeanor that four board members were hell bent on preventing Vice President Lynda Johnson from becoming the Board president. Johnson was poised to be elevated to the presidency, but fate eluded her. Her Achilles’ heel was her opposition to the Bond Measure AA… Read more »

Death Meas AA
Death Meas AA

Corrupt Cerritos politicians, have kept Cerritos annual budget in red ink for the past decade. Additionally, ABC will be run by districts, instead of mainly trustees born out of Cerritos. Both school district and Cerritos city council, need fresh new blood, and end the recycling of politicians from 90703!

Biggest conflict of interest displayed in the Meas. AA fiasco, when Dr. Mary Sieu threw in $500 to aid Meas AA, when she lives in Fullerton Hills; mite as well sleep with your brothers and cousins! Most of the demonstrators pro Meas. AA, conceived from within the classroom employees.


Thanks to Mr. Riley for continuing this most important discussion. It was Mr. Riley that stood before the ABCUSD BOE the night after Measure AA’s defeat and proposed collaboration among the community to provide ABCUSD students and professional educators the facilities needed to achieve greater success. With nearly 60 days behind the election where 10,000 voters expressed apprehension with Measure AA, it is a good time to begin anew a legitimate collaborative process that invites input from all members of the community, not just the “Educrat Machine.” Measure AA was about kids and money. It was political–with a group of… Read more »

Gavin Riley
Gavin Riley

Ralph, California Education Code Sections 46600-46607 cover this. Once a permit has been granted it can only be revoked if the student violates the terms and conditions of the permit(E.C. 46600). If a permit is denied for a future student, parents or the legal guardian have the right to a hearing on why it was denied(E.C.46601). Since California is paying most of the cost of educating students in the state(85% in ABC) there is little chance of “to save money” being an acceptable reason. Beyond the legal reasons the bigger question is the moral one of why anyone would want… Read more »

School Bonds | Mello Roos Tax Bait.
School Bonds | Mello Roos Tax Bait.

School Bonds | Mello Roos Tax Bait. Dear ABC Neighbor: In the spirit of this wonderful holiday season, the United Homeowners Alliance would like to wish you a very merry Christmas and a very happy New Year. We wish you and your family good health and much happiness in the coming year. We would also like to share with you an excellent website set up by our friends in the Orange County Taxpayers Association at www.octax.org/#!local-fees-taxes/cnqi. We support their position and criteria on school bonds, and we would like to add that under no circumstances should a school bond or… Read more »


One of the BIGGEST reasons I voted NO was that as usual, there was NO guarantee the money would be used where it was supposed to be used! As we have found with most liberal democrat politicians LIKE moonbat Brown with his Prop 30! Life was gonna end if it was NOT passed and it was! So now life will end again if we don’t have more and more tax money to fix aging infrastructure and pay HUGE salaries for LAZY incompetent school officials AND finance the teacher unions and their corrupt officials! If any bond measure is put out… Read more »