New school; consider the options

Chico Unified School District trustee, occasional weatherman and rumored future candidate for higher office

Your editorial on Canyon View High only touched the surface of a multifaceted issue [”High school hijinks,” Nov. 17]. There’s of course the build/don’t build question, and how to pay for running it, and then there’s the ever-advancing finish line of total costs that are moving faster than available bond money and developer fees are accruing. The good news is that your property tax bill still isn’t reflecting the cost of the entire bond because it hasn’t been fully issued. Ten million dollars of the bond were used for school modernization; another 40 million have yet to be applied.

Options do exist for Canyon View. With Chico High School’s proximity to Chico State University, options for collaborative programs could be explored and developed. This could grow into a “magnet school” concept for Chico High, freeing resources for making Canyon View a reality.

Or, Canyon View could start off as a “virtual high school” and then grow into traditional “brick and mortar.” The Chico Unified School District is looking into an online curriculum from Florida State University that could allow for an online campus complete with diploma. A school district in Branson, Colo., facing declining enrollment to near bankruptcy, now has a thriving online campus. It could work here.

The point is, starting conditions for Canyon View have changed and fresh evaluations are needed to create plans best suiting our community today.

Of change in Chico over the past 10 years, nothing has been more evident than increasing housing prices. While good for those owning homes, it’s bad for new families seeking their first homes, and that’s the crux of the problem defining Canyon View High today. Young families can’t afford to stay in Chico. That’s a significant part of the declining enrollment problem facing CUSD.

The biggest factor? Lack of quality jobs. Name any significant business that’s landed here in the past 10 years that’s not a service or retail chain.

What this tells me is that we need to get serious about economic development. We need hi-tech, we need industry. And, we have a growing local movement of solar and “green” projects; let’s capitalize on that by attracting businesses that cater to this trend.

We need improved employment opportunities not only for the sake of our community vitality, but also for the sake of our children. Otherwise they’ll likely face a future of never being able to own a home in the town they grew up in.