School bond to be on ballot

By: Stephanie Dumm, News Messenger Reporter
-A +A
Concern for the education of children makes footing the bill for a $163 million bond measure for school improvements and modernizations is worth it to some residents asked by The News Messenger. The Western Placer Unified School Board adopted the 2010-2011 budget last week, which includes a $5.6 million deficit, and also approved the addition of a $163 million general obligation bond measure on November’s ballot. The tax rates would be limited to $60 for every $100,000 of assessed value, according to Dominico. Most residents The News Messenger talked to Tuesday at the Twelve Bridges Library about the bond weren’t thrilled about it but would pay it. “I wouldn’t want to pay it but I think it’s worth it because education is pretty important,” Susie Banomolo said. “Just look at the job market. You have to be educated to get a job.” Laura McIntyre of Sheridan said she “wouldn’t mind paying the extra to help the schools.” “They need help right now because of budget cuts and the government is taking away from the schools,” McIntyre said. Kevin Vasion, who was born and raised in Lincoln and attended Lincoln’s schools, was positive about the bond because “we need new schools” and wouldn’t mind paying it. “That’s part of our job, to take care of our kids,” Vasion said. The $163 million bond measure, if approved by voters, would be used to fund existing school site improvements and eventually the new elementary and high school needed in the district, according to previous News Messenger reports. Cathy Dominico, the district’s financial advisor, said during the June 15 board meeting that the bond would be “repaid by ad valorem tax on property owners,” which means “according to the value of the property,” and would require a two-thirds vote or 55-percent voter approval. The bond measure coincides with the district’s School Facilities Master Plan, which was also approved and adopted during the June 22 board meeting. The facilities master plan would require $806 million for facilities needs, with $192 million to improve current school sites and build new ones, and $616 million “to serve the new general plan,” said superintendent Scott Leaman during the June 15 board meeting. According to previous News Messenger reports, facilities needs include improvements to existing facilities, new schools and classrooms to serve the original general plan, and new schools needed to serve the new general plan. The bond measure, if passed by voters, would be used to improve existing facilities and fund new schools, Leaman said Friday. Leaman stressed that none of the bond money would be used for administrator salaries. “The bond is for our students, to provide classrooms that are adequate for student learning,” Leaman said. The revenue for the Western Placer Unified School District’s budget next year is $45.8 million, and expenditures are $51.24 million. To fund the deficit, the district will be using $340,000 in restricted funds and $5.2 in unrestricted funds to balance the budget, according to assistant superintendent of business services Joyce Lopes. At the June 1 school board meeting, the board voted to approve $1.8 million in budget cuts to save the district money. “I think Western Placer is in a unique position because of the reserves the school has been able to put aside, so the reserves will help insulate the students from having a lot of impact to programs,” Lopes said. “While we are cutting (a portion) of our bussing, we feel while that’s a very difficult choice to make it wasn’t cutting direct support in the classroom.” Some of the cuts include combining kindergarten through 12th grade on buses, shutting down school sites during the summer time to save on utility bills and keeping money in the district by “reducing the number of students allowed to go out of district,” according to a list of cuts provided by the district. Lopes said the district will need to make budget cuts over the next two years but will be able to be flexible about it. “The board has asked us to take a balanced approach to cuts. While we will be looking to make cuts in the neighborhood of $4 million next year and $1.7 million the next, we feel like because we can do it over two years we can be flexible,” Lopes said. This means the district could make smaller cuts next year and bigger the year after that, according to Lopes. “We’re trying to take a very surgical approach to those cuts and try to keep them out of the classroom as much as possible,” Lopes said. “We will work with the budget committee and the public to get input we very much appreciate from them so we can try to make the cuts thoughtfully and surgically.” There are four types of projects that the bond would fund: School Modernization: Projects include safety and security upgrades, refurbishing of facilities including classrooms, computer labs and science labs and making schools compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act. Schools covered by this type of project include Carlin C. Coppin, Creekside Oaks, and Sheridan Elementary Schools, Glen Edwards Middle School and Lincoln High School. School Improvement: Projects include interior classroom improvements, acoustic upgrades, drinking fountain modifications or replacement, and library improvements. Schools covered include Lincoln Crossing Elementary, Twelve Bridges Elementary and Middle School and Foskett Ranch Elementary School. New Schools and Classroom Additions: Projects include construction of new classrooms, computer labs, science labs and physical education areas, as well as installation of fire suppression systems and energy efficient systems. Schools covered include: most schools. Support Services Facility: Projects include “construction or acquisition” of a warehouse facility for food services, shipping, receiving and storage. Source: Western Placer Unified School District Bond Project List