At its Tuesday meeting, San Ramon Valley Unified's Board of Education decided that it would not push for a June facilities bond measure. Citing time concerns, boardmembers said they must take more time to educate residents about the need for such a bond.
"Our last bond measure, in a sense we had a certain advantage, because we had a number of dire needs on a facilities basis. We have some dire needs, but we also have some needs that are hidden right now, things that don't just hit you when you walk on campus," said Board Vice President Ken Mintz. "We're going to need to take some time to make sure we have the right kind of messages to the community."
Although the bond amount has yet to be determined, the district has identified a list of potential modernization and capital projects, including cost-saving projects such as solar panel installation, that amount to more than $299 million across 17 schools. Modernization includes replacement of aging roofs and HVAC systems, expanded digital bandwidth and wireless access, security upgrades and energy efficiency upgrades.
The bond is expected to cost property owners between $20 and $30 per $100,000 assessed valuation and be paid back over 25 years. The facilities bond would be the third such bond passed by San Ramon Valley voters in 14 years. Measure D, a $70 million bond from 1998, will be paid off in 2018 and the $260 million Measure A bond passed in 2002 should be paid off by 2027. The 2002 bond was augmented by over $90 million in state matching funds and over half a billion dollars in developer funds.
Only one resident spoke up about the merits of putting a bond on the June 5 ballot and President Greg Marvel's motion to move the measure to June was met with a resounding no. Although the district's Facilities Advisory Committee advocated for the measure to appear on the June 5 ballot, four board members spoke freely about concerns over the short timeline.
"The more we talked about what getting ready for November looked like, the more it put June out of the question," Board Clerk Rachel Hurd said, leaning toward a Nov. 14, 2012 election. "I think there's a lot of credibility in this district making the case for the need for the bond… and I think we need all of the time that it would take to get ready for November (14) and I'm not even totally 100 percent that November is right."
Boardmembers did not decide whether they would put a facilities bond on the Nov. 14 ballot, but said they district would proceed with education, financial analysis and project prioritizing as if it were. A superintendent's advisory committee will also be formed, with Hurd and Boardmember Denise Jennison, to investigate pressing issues.
The results of a January telephone voter survey by EMC Research found that, of 600 residents interviewed, 55 percent supported a facilities bond at $190 or $260 million. Of those surveyed, women and voters ages 40-64 were the most supportive of the measure. Seventy percent of Democrats would vote for the bond, while 62 percent of parents surveyed agreed with the bond and 51 percent of residents who are not SRVUSD parents would also vote for it. However, 46 percent of survey takers said they would vote for the bond measure's expected cost.
"With the current economy, rising tax aversion and a belief that the schools are already in excellent shape all equal a challenging environment in which to pass a bond measure," EMC's Sara LaBatt said at a recent board workshop. "There is not very much movement in the vote after hearing information. (Resident's) minds may be largely made up on new taxes. Accountability measures and local control are more compelling elements than what the measure will fund."
The Board of Education also briefly discussed the possibility of creating two separate bonds: one that would be voted on by Dougherty Valley residents only and one for the rest of the district. While the board did not come to a conclusion, members agreed that the Dougherty Valley has the most pressing facilities needs as a result of overcrowding.