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LWV League of Women Voters of California Education Fund
Smart Voter
Fresno County, CA November 4, 2008 Election
Measure W
Job Training and School Improvement
Sierra Unified School District

needs 55% to pass

Fail: 2839 / 51.03% Yes votes ...... 2724 / 48.97% No votes

See Also: Index of all Measures

Information shown below: Impartial Analysis | Arguments | Tax Rate Statement | Full Text

To provide a quality education and attract excellent teachers, upgrade electrical systems, classroom computer technology and science labs, improve job training and vocational education classrooms, improve energy efficiency to reduce utility costs, shall Sierra Unified School District issue $10,000,000 of bonds at legal rates to renovate, acquire, construct, repair, equip high school classrooms, sites, facilities, with independent financial audits, citizens' oversight, and no money for administrators' salaries?

Impartial Analysis from the County Counsel
Voter approval of this measure will authorize the governing board of the Sierra Unified School District to issue and sell bonds in the maximum amount of Ten Million Dollars ($10,000,000.00), bearing interest at legal rates. The bond proceeds will be used to renovate, acquire, construct, repair, and equip high school classrooms, sites, and facilities, to upgrade electrical systems, to upgrade classroom computer technology and science labs, to improve job training and vocational education classrooms, and to improve energy efficiency to reduce utility costs, with independent financial audits, and citizen's oversight, but will not be used for administrator's salaries.

s/ Janelle E. Kelley
Interim County Counsel

 
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Arguments For Measure W Arguments Against Measure W
Sierra High school was originally constructed in 1922. Although this ageing facility is well maintained, it is in desperate need of repairs. The bond for the high school would allow the Sierra Unified School District to upgrade and improve electrical and wiring systems to improve computer and internet access. The bond would allow the district to upgrade our 50 year old school agricultural farm to help prepare students for a career in Agricultural and Natural Resources. The bond would allow the District to upgrade computer technology, including new "Smart Classrooms" to utilize up-to-date learning technology and software. The bond would allow the District to improve job training and vocational education equipment and classrooms. The bond would allow the District to make safety repairs on a stadium which is over 50 years of age. The bond would allow the District to make repairs and replace seating in our 50 year old auditorium. Finally the bond would allow the district to improve athletic facilities, restrooms, locker rooms and our track. Given the age of these facilities and the limited budget that the District receives each year it has been determined by the Governing Board that a bond at this time is necessary. This is the first time in the history of the Sierra Unified School District that the District has asked the community to pass a bond for school improvements. The ageing facilities will continue to decline with out a bond. $19.50 per $100,000 of assessed value per year is a small but wise investment in the future of our children.

Measure W for Winning will make a difference everyday for our students. We urge you to vote YES on Measure W.

s/ Robert L. Franklin
Board President

s/ Jennifer Cooper
SUTA President

s/ Michael Gardner
Superintendent

s/ Jim Harris
CSEA President

s/ Bud Olson
Board Vice President

Rebuttal to Arguments For
It is untrue that this bond will increase home values. It will only increase the cost of owning, renting, and buying in our school district.

Taxes and interest and not living within a budget are the reasons for foreclosures and bankruptcy. Let us commit to spending within budget and not burden homeowners with more interest and taxes for 25 years.

In 9 years the loan for the Foothill Middle School will be paid. If we stay the course we will be better off and will save millions in interest and taxes. If this bond passes we will by paying more in interest than what we currently owe.

In the past 10 SUSDs' enrollment has gone down nearly 700 students. This is more than the present student body of Sierra High. It is only reasonable that our budget should be cut accordingly.

There are some hidden and other costs associated with the passage of a bond. In addition to the approximate $100,000 in broker fees for selling the bonds there's the real potential decrease of funds from the state budget to our school district. And when qualifying for "hardship" funds from the state, they reduce the 100 percent down to requiring matching funds. This can cost the district millions.

Please vote NO on these bonds!

s/ Chloe E. Foster
s/ Samuel A. Dow
s/ Andrea Walls
s/ Thomas Hancock II
s/ Bonnie Hancock

Sierra High School Job training and Improvement Measure: Bonds are used primarily for new construction for the replacement of aged and unusable buildings or for the need for more room when faced with an expanding student enrollment. This 10 million-dollar bond measure allows costs for new classroom construction but with our decreasing student population it is not a critical expenditure. With Minarets High School in O'Neal's scheduled to break ground soon, we don't know what impact they will have on Sierra High's decreasing enrollment. Because of the age of our facilities there may soon come a time when we need to pass a bond measure for construction. The likelihood of passing another bond within 25 years is diminished, as we will still owe on this one. We should wait and see how the newly approved budget reductions effect us and give them a chance to work.

We urge a NO vote on this $10,000,000 Bond Measure.

s/ Samuel A. Dow
s/ Andrea E. Walls
s/ Thomas Hancock
s/ Bonnie Hancock

Rebuttal to Arguments Against
The following is a reply to each of the erroneous arguments against Measure W.

1. Although Bonds can be used for new construction or the replacement of unusable buildings, they are quite often used for upgrading aged facilities to prolong their life, add technology and to preserve the history and community pride in existing structures.

2. There will be NO NEW CLASSROOM CONSTRUCTION with this bond.

3. With the declining enrollment, if we improve our existing facilities now, there is no need to build a new high school in the foreseeable future.

4. The Sierra Unified School District was forced to cut $2,938,754 from the current budget. This has led to the reduction or elimination of programs and services our students need and deserve. There will not be any monies in the foreseeable future for upgrading facilities which are in great need of repair or for technology which will allow for our students to be competitive in their areas of interest.

The forced reduction of almost $3,000,000 from the SUSD annual budget will greatly hinder the ability of the district to provide the quality facilities and upgraded technology our students need to be successful. The future of our next generation of students is dependent on this measure. We urge you to vote YES on Measure W. Please vote NO on these bonds!

s/ Robert Franklin
Board President

s/ Wes Qualls
Community Member

s/ Michael Gardner
Superintendent

s/ Jennifer Cooper
SUTA President

s/ Jim Harris
CSEA President

Tax Rate Statement
An election will be held in the Sierra Unified School District (the "District") on November 4, 2008, to authorize the sale of up to $10,000,000 in bonds of the District to finance high school facilities as described in the measure. If such bonds are authorized and sold, principal and interest on the bonds will be payable from the proceeds of tax levies made upon the taxable property in the District. The following information is provided in compliance with Sections 9400-9404 of the Elections Code of the State of California. Such information is based upon the best estimates and projections presently available from official sources, upon experience within the District, and other demonstrable factors.

Based upon the foregoing and projections of the District's assessed valuation, and assuming the entire debt service will be paid through property taxation:

1. The best estimate of the tax rate which would be required to be levied to fund this bond issue during the first fiscal year after the sale of the first series of bonds, based on estimated assessed valuations available at the time of filing of this statement, is $.01975 per $100 ($19.75 per $100,000) of assessed value for the fiscal year 2009-2010.

2. The best estimate of the tax rate which would be required to be levied to fund this bond issue during the first fiscal year after the sale of the last series of bonds, based on estimated assessed valuations at the time of filing of this statement, is $.01975 per $100 ($19.75 per $100,000) assessed value for the fiscal year 2014-2015.

3. The best estimate of the highest tax rate which would be required to be levied to fund this bond issue, based on estimated assessed valuations available at the time of filing of this statement, is $.01975 per $100 ($19.75 per $100,000) of assessed value. The tax rate is expected to remain the same in each year that the bonds are scheduled to be outstanding.

Voters should note the estimated tax rate is based on the ASSESSED VALUE of taxable property on the County's official tax rolls, not on the property's market value. In addition, taxpayers eligible for a property tax exemption, such as the homeowner's exemption, will be taxed at a lower effective tax rate than described above. Certain taxpayers may also be eligible to postpone payment of taxes. Property owners should consult their own property tax bills and tax advisors to determine their property's assessed value and any applicable tax exemptions.

The attention of all voters is directed to the fact that the foregoing information is based upon projections and estimates only, which are not binding upon the District. The actual tax rates and the years in which they will apply may vary from those presently estimated, due to variations from these estimates in the timing of bond sales, the amount of bonds sold and market interest rates at the time of each sale, and actual assessed valuations over the term of repayment of the bonds. The date of sale and the amount of bonds sold at any given time will be determined by the District based on need for construction funds and other factors. The actual interest rates at which the bonds will be sold will depend on the bond market at the time of sale. Actual future assessed valuations will depend upon the amount and value of taxable property within the District as determined by the County Assessor in the annual assessment and the equalization process.

s/ Dr. Michael Gardner
Superintendent
Sierra Unified School District

Full Text of Measure W
PRIORITY SCHOOL PROJECTS LIST

The Board of Trustees of the Sierra Unified School District evaluated the District's urgent and critical facility needs, including safety issues, enrollment trends, class size, energy efficiency and computer technology, in developing the scope of projects to be funded. In developing the scope of projects, teachers, staff and community members have prioritized the key health and safety needs so that the most critical facility needs are addressed. The Board conducted a facilities evaluation and received public input and review in developing the scope of facility projects to be funded. This input concluded that if these needs were not addressed now, the problem would only get worse. In approving this Priority School Projects List, the Board of Trustees determines that the District must:

(i) Ensure that local students have the opportunities they need to learn and excel by both increasing student access to computers and up-to-date technology, and improving job training and vocational education equipment and classrooms.

(ii) Make the high school available to residents as an emergency
shelter during natural disasters, such as wild fires.

(iii) Provide our students with the same quality classrooms and resources provided by other nearby school districts.

(iv) Use our upgraded facilities to attract and retain excellent teachers.

The Bond Priority School Project List is on file at the Sierra Unified School District Office and includes the following projects:

PRIORITY SCHOOL PROJECTS

Sierra High School (Constructed in the 1920's)

  • Upgrade electrical systems and wiring to improve computer and Internet access.

  • Upgrade computer technology, including new "smart" classrooms to utilize up-to-date learning technology and software.

  • Replace 40-year old seating in the Presentation Center.

  • Upgrade 50-year old school agricultural farm to help prepare students for a career in Agricultural and Natural Resources.

  • Improve job training and vocational education equipment and classrooms.

  • Improve athletic facilities, track, outdated girls' locker room, restrooms and stadium.

Listed building, repair and rehabilitation projects and upgrades will be completed as needed. Each project is assumed to include its share of furniture, equipment, architectural, engineering, and similar planning costs, program management, staff training expenses and a customary contingency for unforeseen design and construction costs. In addition to the listed repair and construction projects stated above, the Priority School Projects List also includes the payment of the costs of preparation of all facility planning, facility assessment reviews, environmental studies and construction documentation, and temporary housing of dislocated District activities caused by bond projects. The allocation of bond proceeds will be affected by the District's receipt of State matching funds and the final costs of each project. Certain projects may be undertaken as joint use projects in cooperation with other local public agencies. The budget for each project is an estimate and may be affected by factors beyond the District's control. The final cost of each project will be determined as plans are finalized, construction bids are awarded and projects are completed. Based on the final costs of each project, certain of the projects described above may be delayed or may not be completed. Demolition of existing facilities and reconstruction of facilities scheduled for repair and upgrade may occur, if the Board determines that such an approach would be more cost-effective in creating more enhanced and operationally efficient campuses. Necessary site preparation/restoration may occur in connection with new construction, renovation or remodeling, or installation or removal of relocatable classrooms, including ingress and egress, removing, replacing, or installing irrigation, utility lines, trees and landscaping, redirecting fire access, and acquiring any necessary easements, licenses, or rights of way to the property. Bond proceeds shall only be expended for the specific purposes identified herein. The District shall create an account into which proceeds of the bonds shall be deposited and comply with the reporting requirements of Government Code 53410.

FISCAL ACCOUNTABILITY. IN ACCORDANCE WITH EDUCATION CODE SECTION 15272, THE BOARD OF TRUSTEES WILL APPOINT A CITIZENS' OVERSIGHT COMMITTEE AND CONDUCT ANNUAL INDEPENDENT AUDITS TO ASSURE THAT FUNDS ARE SPENT ONLY ON DISTRICT PROJECTS AND FOR NO OTHER PURPOSE. THE EXPENDITURE OF BOND MONEY ON THESE PROJECTS IS SUBJECT TO STRINGENT FINANCIAL ACCOUNTABILITY REQUIREMENTS. BY LAW, PERFORMANCE AND FINANCIAL AUDITS WILL BE PERFORMED ANNUALLY, AND ALL BOND EXPENDITURES WILL BE MONITORED BY AN INDEPENDENT CITIZENS' OVERSIGHT COMMITTEE TO ENSURE THAT FUNDS ARE SPENT AS PROMISED AND SPECIFIED. THE CITIZENS' OVERSIGHT COMMITTEE MUST INCLUDE, AMONG OTHERS, REPRESENTATION OF A BONA FIDE TAXPAYERS ASSOCIATION, A BUSINESS ORGANIZATION AND A SENIOR CITIZENS ORGANIZATION. NO DISTRICT EMPLOYEES OR VENDORS ARE ALLOWED TO SERVE ON THE CITIZENS' OVERSIGHT COMMITTEE.

NO ADMINISTRATOR SALARIES. PROCEEDS FROM THE SALE OF THE BONDS AUTHORIZED BY THIS PROPOSITION SHALL BE USED ONLY FOR THE ACQUISITION, CONSTRUCTION, RECONSTRUCTION, REHABILITATION, OR REPLACEMENT OF SCHOOL FACILITIES, INCLUDING THE FURNISHING AND EQUIPPING OF SCHOOL FACILITIES, AND NOT FOR ANY OTHER PURPOSE, INCLUDING TEACHER AND SCHOOL ADMINISTRATOR SALARIES AND OTHER OPERATING EXPENSES.


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Created: January 24, 2009 10:32 PST
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