By Janis Mork
September 18, 2012 (San Diego’s East County)- Several local school districts have ballot propositions on the November ballot, including Cajon Valley, Mountain Empire, San Diego Unified, Dehesa, Ramona Unified, Grossmont- Cuyamaca Community College, Chula Vista, and South Bay. All need 55% to pass instead of the usual 2/3 majority vote, according to Prop 39 that was passed several years ago. Below are details on each proposition, along with comments from Superintendents in each district.
Cajon Valley: All school board members have endorsed this bond measure, along with the district’s education foundation and bond oversight committee. If this bond doesn’t pass, Superintendent Scott Buxbaum makes clear, “We just don’t have the facilities to meet the needs of students (two middle schools that don’t have gyms, two schools that need renovation, technology/ equipment upgrade would be delayed.) It would get done, but in around 15-20 years.” In 2008/2009, $7,226,067 has been eliminated in the budget. In 2011/2012, $6,148,917 has been eliminated.”
Back in 2008, Prop D provided funds for new facilities. “ We have approved about $156 million, and we were able to sell $68 million.” Now he observes, “We have $88.4 million left over from the bond…. We’re not asking for more debt; we’re just asking for $88.4 million to re-authorize the money left over from the 2008 measure.” Cost is $30 for each $100,000 in assessed value of a home. For more information, visit:http://cajonvalley.net/Business.cfm?subpage=620893
Ramona Unified School District: Superintendent Robert W. Graeff says, “Prop R is a school improvement proposition, whose primary purpose is to repair and renovate and to modernize our current facilities. Our oldest school is 70 years old. We have a tremendous need to bring our schools up to the 21st century standards.” He explains that, “many roofs are leaking, all carpets need repair…” The bond will also fund “painting every building” and “ adding new technology.” If Prop R doesn’t pass, the consequences would be that “buildings will continue to get older and deteriorate, students won’t have technology they need, and class sizes will get higher, and teachers will get laid off. The cost for homeowners is $15/month for every $100,000 of assessed value for their home.” The bond is endorsed by the San Diego County Taxpayers Association, Classified Union, 750 signatures of members, many PTA presidents and community activist Arvie Degenfelder. For more information, go to: http://www.ramonausd.net/ramonausd/cwp/view.asp?A=3&Q=334288
San Diego Unified: The District’s communications director Bernie Rhinerson, spoke on behalf of the Superintendent. According to the school’s site, Prop Z “will address critical facilities and technology needs at existing schools and in neighborhoods, fund ongoing school maintenance to ensure student health and safety, increase energy efficiency in campus buildings, and provide charter schools with adequate and efficient facilities.” This proposition “supports the district’s efforts to provide students with a quality school in every neighborhood. This measure will help fund construction of new buildings at existing sites and new schools in high-capacity areas. This includes new college, career and technical education facilities in which the district can apply for state matching funds to complete projects. It could also lead to an increase in joint-use projects with the City of San Diego.” And “will enable the district to equip new buildings with more energy-efficient materials, lighting and mechanical systems that will reduce energy costs that are typically paid from the General Fund. Additional energy savings would also result from installing solar panels at more schools throughout the district.” The operating budget has been cut over $450 million over the last five years, $1.4 billion-$1 billion since 2008.” The assessed value for homeowners would be “$60 per year per $100,000.”This proposition is supported by http://helpsaveourschools.com. For more information, visit: http://www.sandi.net/PropZ.
Grossmont-Cuyamaca Community College District: The Chancellor and School Board have endorsed Prop V. Anne Krueger, public informations director, spoke on behalf of the Chancellor. This proposition will “help prepare students and veterans for career success,” she said. She added that this district has a need for “expanded career training facilities, veterans’ centers to assist former and active-duty military, and updating aging classrooms, infrastructure and technology systems”, according to their district website. The budget has been reduced by “more than $16 million in the last four years.” If this proposition fails, “facilities at both colleges will continue to deteriorate, students will be attracted to other schools that have bond measures that have improved other facilities.” The measure is supported by Sharon Jones, president of the San Diego County Board of Education, Mayor Mark Lewis of El Cajon, and Sheriff Bill Gore, and others. For more information, visit: http://www.gcccd.edu/advancement-communications/proposition-v/default.html.
South Bay Unified: Abby Sadaat, assistant superintendent of business service, spoke on behalf of the superintendent. Prop Y is a “reauthorization of Prop X. Because of declining district assessed value, it would enable the district to sell more reauthorized bonds.” He insists that “Taxpayers have to approve it.” If this prop fails, those seven campuses that need improvement “will come to a halt for the time being because there are no more funds.” “And we are eligible for $6.5 million in state matching funds. If we don’t have enough local funds in bond money, we wouldn’t be eligible to receive the state funds.” He added, “The cost of construction would go up, and we would need more resources to complete construction.” Since 2008, $2 million has been reduced in the budget. They are hoping to get the San County Taxpayers Association’s support. For more information, visit: http://www.buildingpropx.com.
Mountain Empire: Steve Van Zant, Superintendent, explained that Prop G is about “repricing portable classrooms to their useful life.” This would cost homeowners $30.8 million per $100,000 of assessed value, and it would be sold as a series of bonds, spread out until 2067. Around $1 million has been cut from the budget in the last three years. If the prop fails, he said, “We would have to start figuring out ways to save money to repair portable classrooms as they disintegrate.” Supporters include Campo Elementary PTA, California School Employees Association, San Diego County Taxpayers Association, and Association of General Contractors. For more information, visit: http://www.sdcta.org/Media/Detail.asp.
Chula Vista Unified: Francisco Escobedo, Superintendent of Chula Vista Unified, explained Prop A, which is for the west side and northern side of Chula Vista. Its purposes include: 1) improve infrastructure for schools, 2) improve energy efficiency for schools, and 3) create robust wireless infrastructure system for schools. This would cost homeowners $29 for every $100,000 of assessed value. 22% of the budget has been cut since 2007/2008. “Some of our schools, especially on the west where the oldest has been around since 1938, needs repairs and the sewers need to be exchanged,” Escobedo said. If this prop fails, “We’re doing the best to maintain schools, but it would be difficult for schools to access the wireless Internet especially in 2014.” Supporters include Chula Vista mayor Cheryl Cox, President of the Chamber of Commerce Lisa Cohen, Director/CEO of South Bay YMCA Tina Williams, and the PTA president at Tiffany School. For more information, visit: http://www.smartvoter.org/2008/06/03/ca/sd/prop/E/
Dehesa Unified: Superintendent Janet Wilson spoke on Prop D for Dehesa Unified. She explains that “We’re not going to voters with yes/no; we want to inform them of their options. Because of the reduced assessed property value, voters authorized up to $5.5 million. And because of the economy, we were able to sell $2.5 million.” If voters reauthorize to sell the bonds now, she said, “They’re making it a double interest. If they do not want to pay the bonds at 60 years at $30 per $100,000, the first round of paying them off would be in 30 years. If they say yes, the district would sell $3 million in 2014. Voters are making two payments and paying in 30 years. $12.6 million in interest would be saved.” The district’s budget has been cut by “around $770,00 in the last four years.” “We are trying to put new facilities on campus. Only four classrooms are ‘permanent.’ Our goal is to replace and update. We know we qualify for state funding,” Wilson explained. If this prop doesn’t pass, she added, “Students would stay in relocatable classrooms. It’s just a matter of postponing when we could do facilities projects. We would probably downscale or put in five new classrooms, and eliminate relocatables if possible.” The district hasn’t obtained any endorsements because “we’re not trying to get support; we’re not out campaigning.” For more information, visit: http://www.kpbs.org/news/2012/sep/13/look-measures-novembers-ballot/