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By Tim Hunt

Voters face three school bond measures come March

Uploaded: Jan 14, 2020

Dublin school trustees and senior staff have spent the last several years scrambling to find a site for a second high school as well as other school sites as enrollment in East Dublin far exceeded expectations.

For 2020, however, it will be a year of moving forward with one key caveat. The school sites have been resolved and the $38 million eminent domain purchase of a high school site in East Dublin should have put that issue to rest. A committee now is being formed to recommend a name.

The caveat is whether Dublin citizens will approve a $290 million bond issue that is on the March 3 ballot. Dublin voters have consistently supported both school bonds and a parcel tax so there’s a good chance they will continue that trend. It would increase the taxes by $50 per $100,000 of assessed value.

Trustees put the measure on the ballot because they do not have the funds available to finish the second phase of the new high school as well as a middle school at Dublin Crossings. Money also is targeted at renovating the upgrading several older campuses in the community.

The March 3 ballot also carries a $15 billion state schools bond that targets everything from K-12 schools to colleges and universities. Ironically, it is numbered Proposition 13, an echo of the 1978 measure that slashed property taxes and limited the annual increase. It remains popular with voters to this day, although union and public education interests have pushed forward a state measure for a split roll that would leave intact the limits on residential properties, but allow reassessment of commercial and retail buildings.

If state voters go along with the March bond measure then districts like Dublin and Pleasanton will again have the potential of receiving state funds to match the locally raised money. State matching money was a key element in the financing plan Dublin trustees agreed to while working on this new bond.

Given the interest in the Democrat presidential primary, a strong turnout is likely on that side and Dems typically favor school bond measures.

Pleasanton voters will decide Measure M on March 3. The $323 million bond measure would maintain an existing tax rate because two existing bond measures will be paid off this year. Voters in 2016 approved a $270 million bond measure. The district’s facilities master plan identified about $1.1 billion in needs.

The district sent out an informational mailer that you may well have missed—it dropped in the mailing chaos before Christmas. When I emailed district spokesman Patrick Gannon asking about the timing, he wrote back, “We wanted to get the information out early to Pleasanton residents so that potential voters had time to gather information to make a decision come ballot time.

“We didn't want to get too far into election season either and risk having it viewed as a political piece, as our goal is to educate our community to determine solutions they feel are right to them.”

The district certainly succeeded in the one goal, but here’s wondering just how many people noticed it. The timing is challenging because vote-by-mail ballots are scheduled to be delivered the week of Feb. 3, a month prior to election day.

Both the Dublin and Pleasanton bond measures require approval of 55% of the votes cast.