Three Humboldt County communities will be looking at school bond measures on their June ballot that would help fund needed renovations and set schools up to be as energy-efficient as possible with renewable-energy sources.
The Blue Lake School District, the Southern Humboldt Unified School District and the Rohnerville School District are asking voters to consider funding the improvements with Measures K, L and M.
Each measure would raise money for the respective school districts through a property tax on parcels in those districts.
For the Rohnerville School District, that annual tax would total about $30 per $100,000 of assessed property value with a 30-year payback, said Superintendent Robert Williams. Measure M would raise an estimated $5 million or more over five years, allowing them to make upgrades and update equipment for students. The 675 students in the district are learning in old buildings -- Toddy Thomas Middle School was built in the 1920s -- with computers that are outdated.
”It's interesting to me that our students are our future, they are so technologically advanced, yet we place them into aging facilities,” Williams said.
The enrollment in Rohnerville is stable, unlike many other districts in the county, but due to the California budget crisis, the funds they would normally receive are not coming in or are being delayed. Needed repairs in the district include fixing plumbing and electrical outlets, asbestos and dry rot removal, and fixing some health regulation compliance issues in the kitchen and bathrooms. The district also hopes to make its facilities more energy-efficient.
The Blue Lake School District also hopes to become more efficient by generating energy through wind and solar capabilities if its Measure K is passed, said Superintendent Paula Wyant-Kelso.
”Our focus is to improve facilities and introduce renewable energy,” she said.
The bond measure is similar to Rohnerville's, in that it would be about $30 per $100,000 of assessed property value and would generate about $2 million. Many of the Blue Lake district's facilities are about 50 years old, and a local historian who grew up in the region remembers the buildings being inadequate when they were built, Wyant-Kelso said.
One building, in particular, that needs to be replaced is the multi-purpose room, so it can house students during physical education classes and other school functions, while also acting as an emergency shelter during natural disasters.
”We've done a good job maintaining facilities, so we don't have some of the dire issues other districts have,” Wyant-Kelso said. “We want to keep from getting there.”
The money would also go toward making repairs, upgrading computer labs and the library, and updating the alert system. It would also open up avenues for state grants that require matching funds.
Wyant-Kelso said she was unsure if the district would have gone forward with a ballot measure had the state not been cutting funding to balance its budget.
”If the state would choose to honor its current funding model and prize education, it would be less likely,” she said.
The community has poured much support into the district in the last few years, and Wyant-Kelso said the residents in her district seem to be in support of the bond measure.
The Southern Humboldt Unified School District's Measure L is asking voters to consider a parcel tax of $60 per $100,000 of assessed property value that could generate up to $25.2 million for the district, said Superintendent Michael McAllister. If passed, the district will upgrade facilities and make needed repairs, replace temporary portable classrooms with permanent structures and replace outdated heating and cooling systems with more energy-efficient systems. Many of the same fixes needed in McAllister's district are similar to those needed in the Rohnerville district.
The funds would be distributed between the eight schools in the district that educate about 780 students, he said. The total cost of the projects that need to be completed is about $25.7 million.
The last school bond measures passed in Humboldt County were in 2008 for the McKinleyville Union School District and the Klamath-Trinity Joint Unified School District, according to reports from the Humboldt County Elections Office.
Allison White can be reached at 441-0506 or firstname.lastname@example.org.