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No School Bond in June but November Still on the Table

The Board of Education says detailed information on cost and projects need to be established before a commitment to a ballot is made.

One thing is certain when it comes to a school improvement bond for the . There won't be a ballot proposal in June.

The SRVUSD Board of Education struck down that option with a 4-1 vote Tuesday night. Board President Greg Marvel, who made the motion for June, was the lone "aye."

However, a ballot measure for Nov. 6 is still on the table. But that's not certain either.

"In my heart I want to go in June. However, June isn't right," said board member Denise Jennison. "But I'm not ready to commit to November."

"We're not ready yet," added board clerk Rachel Hurd. "We have to make the case for the need of the bond and then the campaign... And I'm not totally 100 percent that November is right either."

What exactly the project list for the bond's project will look like, as well as its cost, is still unknown, which was a concern of the board.

The district has identified several projects that would encompass the potential $260 million bond. Major projects include a robust upgrade to technology infrastructure as well as network and wi-fi capabilities districtwide. Mechanical upgrades to heating and cooling systems, security and the energy efficiency of the schools are also possibilities.

Board needs to get its ducks in a row

June was struck down for a number of reasons by the board. The timeline to prepare for a June ballot was too short, which included public education on the bond itself and the needs of the district's 17 schools. A detailed project list was another. A solid cost analysis with "real" numbers was a third issue.

"My biggest concern is the estimates," said board member Paul Gardner. "In June, we might not have real numbers. We'll be over promising and under delivering... I do not want to under deliver.

"We need some time to make sure the public understands what's in this bond, and what we understand from the survey is that that public doesn't understand the bond."

The survey, conducted by EMC Research, to gauge the appetite for a bond measure.

The survey found that just 22 percent felt there was "great need" for more money for the district while 39 percent responded with "some need" and the remaining 59 percent felt there was "little need," "no need" or they didn't know.

The survey also revealed that 51 percent of polled residents would vote yes for a $190 to $260 million bond measure. And still 50 percent were in favor after they were told the bond measure would cost about $30 per $100,000 assessed value of their property. Parents were more supportive of a measure, according to the survey, with 62 percent saying they would support a bond measure.

If passed, this bond would be the third bond passed by voters in the SRVUSD in 15 years. The district passed a $70 million bond measure in 1998 and a $260 million bond in 2002. A bond measure in 1996 failed by just two votes.

Board stresses public education

Public education of the bond was an often revisited topic on Tuesday night.

"We have some dire needs and some needs that are hiding," said board vice president Ken Mintz. He said residents don't see the 50-year sewer pipes that need replacing or the district's limitations in technology and network infrastructure.

"We need time to educate so that the community understands these projects are needed," he added.

"The community wants specificities," Jennison said. "We can convey that need, but if we can't answer their questions, that hurts our credibility."

The board instructed staff to prioritize its list of projects and conduct a cost analysis of these projects by the end of April. "We should proceed as if it was going in November and if we don't, we continue to move forward," Hurd said.

Why Marvel advocated for June

Marvel, along with one resident to speak, advocated for the June vote.

"There are factors that say June is the way to go and there are factors that say November is the way to go," Marvel said. "But there are two things that drive me to June."

Marvel said he believed there was a reservoir of goodwill and faith from the parents and the community of the SRVUSD that would pass a bond measure in June.

"They've seen what we've done with their money. We've done a bang-up job and stretched every penny," he said.

He was also concerned that construction costs would balloon over the next years. The district has said a reason to go earlier rather than later are the historically low construction costs.

"I see an explosion in construction and it's only going to get worse," he said. "It comes down to a money issue. Something may cost $10 million now but $15 million in the future."

Marvel's points were moot, however, after the board voted down his motion.

The board did express its responsibility in determining action as soon as it can.

"We owe it to staff and the public to make a decision on whether we go in November or later," Mintz said.

Nov. 6, 2012, is the next date the board could put a school bond on a ballot. The district estimates an election in November will cost $120,000.

Sam Clemens February 25, 2012 at 11:17 PM
On line education is not a side discussion. It bears directly on how much and the type of facilities required. I'm sure that the board does some kind of sq fr per student extrapolation and come up with $250 million They din't think different. They w on't demand big changes. They don't see the ship as on fire.
Sam Clemens February 26, 2012 at 01:17 AM
Why isn't there close circuit camera's in every classroom for the purpose of department heads and school management observing their staff and customers (students). Where else on the planet do employees go virtually unobserved? And basically unmanaged? Seems obvious to me, but what's the chance of the teacher's union allowing their employees to be regularly monitored. A minor facilities "think different" approach well beyond SRVSD to implement.
Sam Clemens February 26, 2012 at 01:38 AM
I certain that if we leave teaching innovation such as on line classes, other changes that cut teacher employment, or requires performance based evaluation, you will never see it withe the current system. Investment in a competitive system will create the right kind of innovation. Parents will decide what works.
Sam Clemens February 26, 2012 at 03:13 PM
Dictators throughout history recognize the importance of controlling the education system. Educational control helps them control the minds of the populace. No dictator in America yet, but the educational system needed to support one may be.
Sam Clemens March 01, 2012 at 06:23 PM
By the way...charter schools are "public" schools.

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