by YouthWire/New America Media
Editor’s Note: California’s recently enacted Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF), in effect since July 1, will continue to increase funding for school districts over the next eight years. The greatest increases will go to districts with large populations of “high need” – low-income, foster youth and English Language Learner (ELL) – students. There are concerns, however, over how districts will purpose these new revenue streams, and whether or not communities will be actively engaged. YouthWire asked high school students from across the state to weigh in on that question, using photographs and their own words. The State Board will vote Jan. 16 on what is expected to be the final version of the new funding law.
This story was originally published by New America Media.
“Drinking water contaminated with arsenic”
I am a senior at Golden Valley high school, and I ask for only one simple thing – clean, drinkable water. When we turn on our water fountains to take a drink of water we expect to be drinking clean pure water. However, that is not the case at Golden Valley high school. Recently the students of Golden Valley High School received a letter from the Kern High School District informing them that their drinking water is contaminated with arsenic. Though the community water center claims the levels are not yet high enough to be harmful to people the amount of arsenic detected in the water is still above the legal health standard. Arsenic is a drinking water contaminant that can have serious health effects, such as reduced mental functioning in children, cancer of the bladder, lungs, skin, kidneys, liver and prostate and Type 2 diabetes. As a result of the water contamination, students have now started to refuse to drink from the drinking fountains, and because the school does not provide another source for free water; students are not drinking the recommended amount of water.
~ Chris Romo, Golden Valley High School, Kern High School District (KHSD)
“Campus is damaged”
At Richmond High, some of the infrastructure on campus is damaged and in need of repair. While walking near the entrance of school, I discovered a ceiling light cover that was falling out above the main entrance of the little theater of the school. If this cover were to fall out, it could definitely cause damage to a student or faculty member. Damage is also present on building doors, along with some benches. But the thing that affects students the most is the lack of funding for sports teams and equipment. Most of the basketball courts don’t have nets, and if they do have a net, it’s in poor condition. A friend of mine on the varsity football team also confirmed that the team “needs better equipment.” The lack of funds for sports and recreation activities hurts students, in part because if we decide to apply to universities, one of their requirements is to show participation in extracurricular activities.
~ Luis Cubas, Richmond High, West Contra Costa Unified (WCCUSD)
Restrooms “don’t function properly”
I would most like to see a restroom upgrade. There are only two restrooms available for the entire student body of 2,000 students to utilize during our 5-minute break and 38-minute lunch period. There is always a line, partly because the facilities are outdated and inefficient. The restrooms currently are equipped with hand dryers but they don’t function properly. They blow out cold air at low pressure, so it takes more than 5-minutes just to wash your hands. Thankfully, this school year, our soap dispensers were upgraded but they never seem to be filled. Also, the doors to the restroom stalls are always unreliable. At any moment it could just fly open due to the opening or closing of a nearby stall. Lastly, the restrooms have no type of air freshening system. Restrooms are supposed to be relaxing and clean, not repulsive and dirty — a place where students should be able to refresh themselves, and not tiptoe around or avoid altogether.
~ Alexis Pigg, Edison High School, Fresno Unified (FUSD)