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$20 million Hughson school bond before voters on Nov. 2

POSTED August 13, 2010 10:00 p.m.
 
School district voters in Hughson will be asked on Nov. 2 if it's okay to be assessed once again for improvements to school campuses.
Measure H will appear on the ballot to raise $20 million through the issuance of bonds. The funds would mostly be spent at Hughson High School which is in need of updating, said Superintendent Brian Beck.

"It's mostly for high school modernization of classrooms and restrooms and a new science building," said Beck.

Currently science classes are scattered among several buildings which are outdated and "are in need of replacement," said Beck. He said most of HUHS buildings are at least 60 years old as the school celebrates its 100th anniversary.

Funds would also modernize the high school agriculture shop, and expand athletic facilities, specifically developing a vacant property east of the high school with soccer, baseball and softball fields as well as a concession stand and bus lane. The existing football field would be equipped with synthetic grass and all-weather rubber track.

Beck said the funds would also finance a multi-use room/music classroom at Emilie Ross Middle School.

"We've conservatively overpriced these things to be sure the money wouldn't be stretched out and we'd run out of money to do them all."

School district officials decided to go for the bond measure despite Stanislaus County being hard hit by unemployment and high foreclosure rates. A consultant who conducted a phone survey suggested that Hughson voters are likely to support a bond assessment of $49 per $100,000 of assessed value on property. The tax would be a little over $4 per month on a home and lot with an assessed value of $100,000. The average assessed value in Hughson, he said, is $150,000 — meaning the average assessed value would be $6 per month. Beck reminds people that assessed value is typically a lot less than market value.

Farmers would pay more since property with a higher value pay a higher assessment.
"Based on the survey, we're comfortable that the level of support is there," said Beck.

Still, Hughson homeowners are already paying for two previous bond measures. One bond measure sunsets in 2012. Beck noted that the $16 million Measure G, passed in 2004, failed to go as far as officials hoped because costs escalated at the time. The high school was shortchanged a planned new classroom wing because of the escalated costs, he said.

Funds also were gobbled up faster than expected because of the discovery of additional repairs that were uncovered later when several roofs were replaced.

"Costs are so low right now that if we wait several years, construction costs could be back to where they were and we could only get about two-thirds done on the list."

Beck said he read one article which surmised that school bonds continue to have a high passage rate even in bad economic times. He said 75 percent of all school bonds in the state placed on the last election succeeded to get the required vote.

"What does it hurt to try? If it doesn't pass it doesn't pass."

Hughson High School has been undergoing some repair work this summer with leftover funds from Measure G. The main office building is being reroofed and electrical work done. Reeder Hall was also completely renovated. All sidewalks around Reeder Hall had to be reconstructed to make them ADA compliance because of a one-inch lip that resulted.

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