DANVILLE -- Come November, San Ramon Valley voters will be asked to approve a $260 million bond measure to cover school repairs, renovations and new construction.
The San Ramon Valley school board on Tuesday unanimously agreed to place the measure on the ballot. Trustees said the opportunity to invest millions in school facilities would not only protect the quality of educational programs, it would sustain the quality of life in the surrounding communities as well.
"This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity," said board president Greg Marvel. "We have low construction costs and low interest rates. If we don't grab this now, people will look back and wonder what the board was thinking."
The measure, which needs approval by 55 percent of voters, would collect taxes from homeowners for 25 years, with a starting rate of $13.20 per $100,000 of assessed valuation in 2013.
According to an analysis provided by assistant superintendent Gary Black, the school district has been struggling with multi-million dollar cuts since 2008, and as a result, there has been little opportunity to perform much needed maintenance at a majority of the schools in the district.
After concerns were assessed by selected staff and the district's Facilities Advisory Committee, it was determined that over $380 million was needed to fund a list of projects for facility renovations and restorations.
However, Black said there was not enough money being funneled
Rather than wait to see if the state will pass a statewide bond measure in two years, Black said putting the board's bond measure on the November ballot was the best option.
"The story gets played out pretty clearly," he said at the meeting Tuesday. "The only true option to get where we need to go to meet the needs (of the schools) is local funding."
And with no projected increase to the current tax rate in the area, board members are hopeful voters will also widely approve the measure.
Audience members who spoke at the meeting Tuesday were all optimistic about what 260 million could do for local schools.
Bekki Livingston, the librarian at Golden View Elementary School in San Ramon, said she is hopeful the bond will help improve the conditions of the school's library as well as make room for a new classroom for students currently housed in a corner of the library because they have nowhere else to go.
"It is hard trying to read to kindergarteners or even fifth graders when they are distracted and in a place that can be dark and dingy," she said. "That is no way for our students to start off their careers in school. (Bond money) can go a very long way towards improving the education."
Contact Katie Nelson at 925-847-2164 or follow her at Twitter.com/katienelson210
-- In 2008, due to cuts in state funding for education, the district was forced to make multi-million dollar cuts in its budget.
-- Starting in 2010, facilities maintenance budgets were reduced to $2.4 million.
-- In November 2011, trustees began talks on the need for bond funding and creating priorities for projects.
-- Beginning in January, community forums were held at each high school to gather community ideas to assess what needs repair, renovation or restoration.
-- Aug. 7, the board unanimously agreed to place a $260 million bond measure on the November 2012 ballot.
What it would pay for
The following schools have been identified as being in need of repair or renovation. The total cost of the work is estimated at $380 million. The bond measure on the November ballot seeks $260 million.
-- Modernization of eight elementary and middle schools: $77.5 million
-- Renovations/replacement, Stone Valley Middle School (Phases I-III): $43.5 million
-- Stone Valley Middle (Phase IV): $21.4 million
-- Construction of 47 classrooms, San Ramon Valley High (Phase I): $28.2 million
-- San Ramon Valley High School (Phase II): $24 million
-- Construction of eight to 11 classrooms, Dougherty Valley High: $6.4 million
-- Construction of 18 classrooms, Monte Vista HighDANVILLE: $18 million
-- New school in Dougherty Valley: $31.3 million
-- Technology infrastructure improvements: $8.5 million
-- Seismic improvements: $3-8 million
Source: San Ramon Valley Unified School District