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Smart Voter
Sonoma County, CA November 2, 2010 Election
Measure H
Sonoma Valley Unified School District

55% Approval Required

Pass: 10,581 / 67.6% Yes votes ...... 5,068 / 32.4% No votes

See Also: Index of all Measures

Results as of Jan 6 3:01pm, 100.0% of Precincts Reporting (33/33)
Information shown below: Impartial Analysis | Arguments |

To improve student achievement, college/job preparation and help prevent budget cuts by making neighborhood schools energy efficient with solar panels, energy efficient windows and water conservation improvements, allowing savings to improve classrooms; upgrading technology; and modernizing/equipping classrooms, career/technical education, libraries, and computer/science labs; shall Sonoma Valley Unified School District issue $40,000,000 in bonds, at legal rates, under a no-tax-rate-increase financing plan, with annual audits, citizens' oversight and no money for administrators' salaries?

Impartial Analysis from County Counsel
The California Constitution allows school districts to borrow money by issuing bonds to pay for repair, construction, and replacement of school classrooms and facilities if 55 percent of the voters who vote on the measure approve the sale of the bonds. The Sonoma Valley Unified School District has called for an election on whether to issue bonds in the amount of $40 million for such purposes.

Money raised by the sale of the bonds can be used only for the purposes and projects stated in the Measure. The Bond Project List is set forth in the Measure, and is published as part of the Measure in this ballot pamphlet. Examples of projects listed include but are not limited to construction, renovation, modernization, and expansion of classrooms; expansion, upgrading, and renovation of other school facilities; acquisition and installation of energy improvements, including roof replacement, installation of photovoltaic solar panels, natural light improvements, and energy efficient lighting, windows, and window coverings; building improvements, such as replacement of heating, cooling, and ventilation systems; technology upgrades including computer installation; site improvements, including safe paths of travel, improved parking and bus areas, and improved pick-up and drop-off areas. As required by state law, the measure prohibits using bond proceeds for school operating expenses or teacher and administrator salaries. The District's Board will establish the priority and order in which the projects will be completed.

If the measure is adopted, the District's Board will conduct annual, independent financial and performance audits to verify that expenditures are proper and projects are being completed. In addition, an Independent Citizens' Oversight Committee will be established within sixty days of the report of election results to the Board. The proceeds of the bonds will be maintained in a separate account in the County Treasury, and the Superintendent of the District is required to report to the Board annually on the status of projects undertaken and the amount of bond proceeds received and expended in that year.

Within limits set by law, the District has the discretion to decide when to sell all or any portion of the bonds. The bonds may be issued and sold in series, at different times, as projects are undertaken. The bonds of any series must mature within 40 years of the date they are issued. The funds to repay the bonds would be raised by an increase in property taxes based upon the value of land and improvements in the District. The interest rate on the bonds would depend on the market rate at the time the bonds are sold. The rate cannot exceed the rate set by state law, currently 12 percent. The Tax Rate Statement prepared by the Superintendent of the District, which estimates the property tax levies required to pay off the bonds, follows this analysis.


By: s/ Kathleen Larocque Deputy County Counsel

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Arguments For Measure H Arguments Against Measure H
State budget cuts threaten local education. To continue to improve local schools, retain and attract excellent teachers, and upgrade career and vocational/technical education, Vote "Yes" on H. Yes on H makes schools energy-efficient, saving hundreds of thousands of dollars a year that can be spent in classrooms instead, to: retain and attract excellent teachers, preserve school library hours, maintain music and art classes, keep class sizes low.

In today's tough job market, with employers relying more on technology, we must provide alternatives for our students so that all of them, whether or not they attend college, have the opportunity to get a good-paying job following graduation. Yes on H upgrades career and shop classrooms, including technology skills training, agriculture, and manufacturing, so students acquire important job skills and are able to compete for good-paying jobs when they graduate. Yes on H also upgrades technology in classrooms, libraries, computer, and science labs + bringing our schools into the 21st century.

Measure H requires establishment of an Independent Citizens' Oversight Committee, annual audits to ensure that funds are spent efficiently, and no money for administrator salaries. Payments are tax-deductible and will extend, rather than increase, current tax rates. Good schools mean stable property values. Yes on H is the best thing we can do for our local economy, qualifying our schools for millions of dollars in matching funds, energy rebates and creating local construction jobs.

We cannot allow Sacramento's current fiscal crisis and the Governor's proposed school budget cuts to affect the quality education in our community, or the health and safety of our students. Join Vince Albano, Kathleen Hill, Kathy Witkowicki and The Sonoma Valley Chamber of Commerce in voting local + be sure to find Sonoma Valley's Measure H on your ballot and vote "Yes". Visit

s/ Steve Cohen Dean, Community College
s/ Bill Cogbill Sheriff, Sonoma County

s/ Jennifer Yankovich, CEO
s/ Mick O'Meara Teacher, Coach, Parent
s/ Ana Byerly Temelec Resident, Business Owner

Rebuttal to Arguments For
The importance of education is not what's at issue here. The Sonoma County Taxpayers' Association supports public education, but we think taxpayers have a right to expect school officials to use taxpayer provided resources prudently and efficiently. This bond measure does neither.

If bond proceeds fund energy efficiency installations that help reduce energy bills, and those savings are not used to repay the bonds, those savings will be used to create more money available for the school's general funds. Since 80% of general fund budgets typically pay for salaries, the bond proceeds will be used to support higher salaries.

One of the stated uses of bond proceeds is technology upgrades and equipment. With the rapid pace of technological development most technology equipment has a short useful life before its out dated. Even being generous and assuming a five year life, taxpayers will be paying for these improvements long after they have been retired to the landfill.

Issuance of bonds usually is sign of failure of the district to provide a financial plan to maintain and replace aging buildings. Prudent school officials will have set aside funds in a reserve so that they will have the money to upgrade building systems and replace things like roofs. Taxpayers should not reward those officials who have allocated their entire budget to higher salaries, failing to set aside reserves for predictable maintenance/replacement needs.

s/ Jack Atkin, President s/ Fred Levin, Executive Director

We suggest taxpayers start by asking why the Sonoma Valley Unified School District needs to borrow money and raise taxes to perform predictablemaintenance and replacement of major building components. When a school district proposes a bond it's usually a sign of failure to plan adequately and to prudently manage the finances of the District.

The fact that a roof and other major building components do not last forever should surprise no one. Providing for a sound roof, functioning heating system and other elements of the physical plant should be every bit as much a part of the annual budgeting as staff salaries and utility bills. Because roofs are not replaced every year, a portion of the replacement cost should be placed in a dedicated replacement reserve fund each year so that funds will be available when the need does arise. Without an adequately funded reserve only three things can happen, and they are all bad; the District must defer maintenance, take funds from educational programs for building maintenance or raise taxes (issue bonds).

The Sonoma County Taxpayers' Association has been and continues to be a strong supporter of public education. However, taxpayers have a right to expect the officials who manage our public schools to be prudent managers of the taxpayer resources accorded them. A District that has not made adequate plans nor maintained a replacement reserve fund, and has to resort to raising taxes has not met this basic requirement for prudent management.

This bond proposal is a red flag suggesting the management practices at the Sonoma Valley Unified School District need to be modified to regain taxpayers' confidence, before they ask for more of our money. We recommend a No vote on Measure H.

s/ Jack Atkin, President s/ Fred Levin, Executive Director

Rebuttal to Arguments Against
Opponents clearly didn't do their homework! If they had, they would have found that Measure H has nothing whatsoever to do with tax increases, fixing roofs or general maintenance. They say they support education, but are opposing seven local education measures that improve our region's schools.

Don't believe their rhetoric! Vote "Yes" on H to Support Sonoma Valley Schools. Measure H extends but does not increase current tax rates and is supported by a broad local coalition. Property taxes are tax deductible. Wouldn't you prefer these funds go directly to local schools rather than the IRS and PG&E?

Measure H is fiscally prudent and enables the district to reduce operating costs and invest the savings in retaining and attracting outstanding teachers, preventing classroom over crowding, and upgrading our college planning, career and vocational training programs.

Yes on H puts more dollars into our classrooms without raising current tax rates. By making our local schools more energy efficient, our schools save millions of dollars on these costs over the next 30 years - money that goes directly into the classroom.

Yes on H helps students prepare for the toughest job market in generations by expanding career technical education and technology for our students. Yes on H is the best thing we can do for our local economy, qualifying our schools for millions of dollars in matching funds and creating local construction jobs.

To get more information on why business leaders, parents and the community are supporting "Yes" on H, visit

s/ Jennifer Yankovich, CEO BOYS & GIRLS CLUB
s/ Larry Krieger, President
s/ Erik Garcia Vice President, Sonoma Materials
s/ Britta Johnson Founder, Love Our Libraries
s/ Tim Wallace President, Benziger Family Winery

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Created: January 6, 2011 15:01 PST
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