With a little over 40 days until the upcoming election, Turlock Unified School District is busy educating stakeholders on two general obligation bond measures that will provide necessary funds to address various educational and facility needs.
“The reality is that this District hasn’t had a bond in the last 10 years, so I really hope the community will support this,” said TUSD Board President Frank Lima during Tuesday’s meeting.
The two bonds, a $40.8 million elementary bond measure and a $48 million district wide bond measure, were prepared after substantial research from the Board, including surveys to see if the bonds would be approved by potential voters and the development of a bond advisory committee, which deliberated on what projects should be prioritized by the bonds, if passed.
The district wide bond measure will authorize $48 million in general obligation bonds for facilities at Turlock High School, Pitman High School and Roselawn High school, while the elementary bond measure will authorize $40.8 million in general obligation bonds for facilities at Brown, Crowell, Cunningham, Earl, Julien, Osborn, Medeiros, Walnut and Wakefield elementary schools, as well as Dutcher Middle School, Turlock Junior High School and eCademy Charter.
The focus for the two bond measures is to address critical facility needs which were identified through the research. Four major focus areas were decided on: safety, science, technology, engineering and math, or STEM, modernizations and renovations and the THS science wing.
Together, the measures will generate $88.8 million in local funds plus potential millions in state matching funds. Local taxpayers will repay the bonds over the next 25 years beginning in December 2017 at a combined projected rate of no more than $58.99 per $100,000 of assessed value. The district wide bond will raise $48 million with a projected rate of no more than $29.99 per $100,000 of assessed value, and the elementary bond will raise $40.8 million with a projected rate of no more than $29 per $100,000 of assessed value.
“The annual tax is calculated by dividing the County-assessed value by $100,000 and multiplying by $30, $29 or a combined $59 respectively — roughly 30 cents per day to a homeowner,” said Assistant Superintendent of Business Services Mike Trainor.
Since the TUSD Board of Trustees voted unanimously in June to place the two general obligation bond measures on the ballot in November, Trainor said the District has been busy attending back-to-school nights, as well as community and TUSD forums, to educate people on the two bonds.
“Upon making the decision to move forward with the bond measures N and O, we began coordinating with school sites for back to school nights, as well as various parental, administrative and service groups to provide factual information related to both measures,” said Trainor.
By Oct. 6, Trainor said TUSD expects to educate nearly 3,000 community stakeholders.
“Our focus is to try and connect with as many people as possible during this time,” said Trainor.
During these meetings, Facilities Planner and Safety Coordinator Roger Smith said one concern posed by a number of stakeholders revolved around the fact that PHS was getting so much bond money when it is a newer school.
“What people don’t realize is that Pitman was developed in the mid-1990s, so as far as its design it was built as an open situation that invited the community onto the campus,” said Smith. “This is in contrast with what we’re trying to do today, which is to provide perimeter security and locked classrooms.”
Lima backed Smith’s comments Tuesday, saying that it is some of the most modern campuses that need upgraded security measures the most.
“The community has spoken and the focus always has to be on safety and security and that’s our biggest need by far,” said Lima. “Sadly, our most modern campuses were built to be wide open to be inclusive and all of the sudden we find out we have to be exclusive and we have to control points of entry.”
Also noting that PHS was constructed with different educational standards, Smith said the high school would also need improvements at its various science laboratories in order to better align with STEM standards.
“Updating a Pitman High School laboratory is needed to support the emerging STEM programs that we have,” said Smith.
Smith said the second question posed by stakeholders during these meetings was why funding a stadium at PHS was not included in the bond measures.
“We presented 500 random voters with a list of projects that would be considered by the District and a Pitman High School stadium came in very last,” said Smith. “There was virtually no support from registered voters who would be voting on this bond measure.”
Both measures require 55 percent voter approval. For more information, visit turlockusd-ca.schoolloop.com/bond.