KNIGHTSEN -- Teresa Sidrian, business manager of the school district in this tiny East Contra Costa town, was working the phones hard recently on an after-hours project that isn't part of her job description.
Then again, in a one-school district like hers, it sometimes takes help from employees at all levels to get a job done.
Together with Knightsen School District's superintendent and principal as well as a few teachers and parents, Sidrian was trying to drum up public support for a $3 million bond measure.
"We're pleading to voters," she said.
If Measure H receives approval from at least 55 percent of voters Nov. 6, it will mark the first time that Knightsen School District has issued bonds. And employees here know that every vote counts. A $5 million bond measure the district put on the ballot two years ago failed by two votes.
There is no argument against the measure in the county's voter information pamphlet, nor has the Contra Costa Taxpayers Association taken a stand.
"We're more neutral (when issues involve school districts) unless there's something that needs to be disclosed," Executive Director Kris Hunt said.
Property owners would repay the funds over a period of up to 30 years in the form of a tax that's estimated to be $30 per $100,000 of a parcel's assessed value.
The district would use all the revenue to pay off a $3.3 million construction loan it took out to build the first phase of Old River School, which it was forced to close in 2010 after just two years because of declining enrollment.
Knightsen School District has been paying $262,000 annually on the loan since 2007. Although it has set aside enough money to meet that obligation for an additional three years, the downturn in the housing market has put a strain on its budget.
Until a homebuilder gave it $57,000 a week ago, the district hadn't received any income from developer fees for five years, Sidrian said.
That money it had collected from that source ran out last year, so now the district is relying entirely on its general fund to make the payments, she said.
If Measure H passes, however, Knightsen instead will contribute $400,000 from that same fund toward the bond payments along with the developer fees revenue that just materialized to help taxpayers retire the debt faster, Sidrian said.
Although success would free up the general fund, she said that because of state shortfalls, the district won't be able to restore all the jobs and services it has eliminated in recent years, noting that revenue hasn't increased since January 2008.
The district can't continue to make loan payments indefinitely without a reversal of fortune, so if Measure H fails it will have to pare the budget further and, possibly, try a third time to pass a bond measure in 2014, Sidrian said.
Contact Rowena Coetsee at 925-779-7141. Follow her at Twitter.com/RowenaCoetsee.