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Survey finds local voters support general obligation bonds

It was recommended that the Turlock Unified School District Board of Trustees continue the process to prepare for a November 2016 bond measure election after the results of the 2016 Bond Measure Feasibility Survey were presented at Tuesday’s meeting.

The TUSD commissioned Godbe Research to conduct a survey of 500 local voters in order to assess potential voter support for bond measures to upgrade and repair schools through local funding. The survey provided voter opinions for the development of potential school facilities general obligation bond measures for the November 2016 election.

In the survey, it was found that 65.6 percent of voters surveyed were likely to approve $49 million of bonds that would improve Turlock’s high schools with local funding that cannot be taken by the state. 68.1 percent of voters were likely to approve the $40 million bond measure to upgrade and repair the elementary schools within the district.

Improvements for the city’s high schools would include providing science, technology and engineer labs, providing new classrooms and instructional technology for core academics, modernizing classrooms to meet current health and safety codes, improving campus safety and security and repairing classroom sites and facilities. Local elementary schools would see improvements made through new, modernized classrooms, increased campus safety and security and the reparation of classrooms, sites and facilities.  In order to pass, both measures would need a 55 percent threshold.

The survey also questioned voters on specific features of the measure which the funding would go toward. It was found that voters were most supportive of providing classroom access for disabled students, providing up-to-date classroom computers and tech and improving upon the science, technology, engineering and math labs within the school district. Voters were less likely to support the building of both a new stadium at Pitman High School and a new K-12 campus.

It was concluded that the survey revealed a solid base of voter support for a bond measure. Based off of the features supported by voters surveyed, some of the items in the ballot questions could be adjusted to address voter priorities. Given the survey findings, Godbe Research recommended that the Board continue the preparing process.

“I think this information given to us is extremely helpful,” said Board President Frank Lima of the survey results. “Any time you go to the public and ask for this type of support, it’s incumbent upon this district and this Board to be absolutely prudent with the public’s funds and make sure that they’re applied appropriately.”