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TUSD begins general obligation bond process for 2016 election

The Turlock Unified School District Board of Trustees authorized administration during a special workshop on Wednesday to begin developing school facilities general obligation bond measures for the November 2016 election.

“I’m in support of moving this forward with the understanding that the dates might slip, the projects are certainly not anywhere set,” said Trustee Barney Gordon, “but we have to start the process.”

Facilities Planner and Safety Coordinator Roger Smith, who led the workshop on Wednesday, said there are two different types of bond measures: the original General Obligation Bond, which requires a 66.7 percent affirmative vote, and the Proposition 39 General Obligation Bond, which requires a 55 percent affirmative vote.

Both GO bonds can be used to purchase land, construct buildings and make improvement to land or buildings. However, while the Prop.39 GO Bond can be used for furnishings and equipment, as well as leasing property, the original GO Bond cannot.

The maximum bonding capacity for both bonds is 1.25 percent of assessed valuation applied to the elementary portion or the high school portion. The annual tax rate for the original GO Bond is determined by the relationship of annual bond payment and assessed value. For the Prop. 39 GO Bond, the annual tax maximum is $30 per $100,000 assessed value applied to the elementary portion or the high school portion.

Smith said that for the elementary bonding capacity, which takes into account the 2014-15 assessed value of $4,935,987,401, it is over $45 million in progress after the District deducts existing obligations. For the high school portion of the district, which takes into account the 2014-15 assessed value of $6,094,154,165, the estimated bonding capacity is over $43 million in progress after deducting previous obligations.

Smith said that when it comes to requirements, there are quite a few differences between the original GO Bond and the Prop. 39 GO Bond.

Bond proceeds from the Prop. 39 GO Bond must be spent on the specific project list identified in the bond measure.

“If the project is not named on that list, you cannot fund or spend anything towards that project,” said Smith. “The original one is a little bit more flexible, you can be more generic in your description in terms of what you want to do, which is not the case with Proposition 39.”

“When you go to the voters, you have to have a very precise list,” continued Smith.

As required in the original GO bond, proceeds may be spent on District employees working on bond projects, including construction, construction management or bond accounting. For the Prop. 39 GO Bond, proceeds cannot be spent on the aforementioned needs, but they can be spent on outside firms.

Additionally, a Citizens’ Oversight Committee is required for the Prop. 39 GO Bond. The purpose of the committee is to review and advise on District compliance. The committee must have a minimum of seven members representing certain areas, but no District membership whatsoever.

For existing obligations that TUSD has already committed to, the principle balance is approximately $49 million. This includes Measure N, which was used for Pitman High School; Measure D, which was used for Dutcher Middle School modernization, Medeiros Elementary and Walnut Elementary; Measure Y, which was used for Roselawn High School and Turlock High School modernization; Measure Z, which was used for modernization projects at multiple elementary sites and DMS; and the Certificate of Participation, which was used for the THS Aquatic Center, DMS modernization and PHS expansion.

Possible projects for the elementary school include a new elementary school (TK-5) at Morgan Ranch site and plans, which is estimated to cost $3 million, the campus realignment of Osborn Two-Way Immersion Academy, which is estimated to cost $1.5 million, several modernization projects which are estimated to cost $13.1 million, and middle school conversions, which are estimated to cost $30.1 million.

District wide possible projects include a new science wing at THS, which is estimated to cost $9 million, or the modernization of the existing science wing at THS, which is estimated to cost $4 million. Other projects include the THS Modernization, which is estimated to cost $25 million (including science), and a PHS stadium, which is estimated to cost $14 million.

Other potential projects include extended day kindergarten, immersion expansion, STEM programs, and MakersLabs for Career Technical Education, technology efforts, and security and safety site improvements.

“If you start thinking about the number of public forums we’ve held over the past two years, there has been a common thread with STEM, immersion and extended kindergarten,” said Interim Superintendent Dana Salles Trevethan. “We don’t need to do a survey to know that is something that they want.”

With the Board’s approval, the District will begin recruiting consulting services. Recommended consulting services for the development of GO Bonds are a financial advisor, which prepares projections for assess values, project and expenditure options and tax rates; a special (Bond) counsel, which prepares legal documents to order election; a public opinion surveyor, which tests support for projects and tax rate thresholds; and a general (Bond) counsel, which will look at what is prepared by the special (Bond) counsel and offer advice when needed.

Currently, the state is not funding new school construction projects. However, Smith said that the Coalition of Adequate School Housing said that it is planning to place a $9 billion school construction bond on the November 2016 ballot.