Five East Bay school districts seek voter approval Nov. 6 for bond measures to fund school construction. We recommend passage of four. We will consider the fifth, West Contra Costa's Measure E, on Monday.
School bonds are loans repaid from tax increases on property owners. We evaluate how the four districts would spend the money and how the debt affects property owners' total burden of extra school taxes. We also reviewed the repayment plans and found the bonds would be retired quickly enough that interest costs would be reasonable.
Yes on Oakland Measure J: Most of the $475 million bond measure would go toward construction projects at 12 schools. Fremont and McClymonds high schools top the list.
The new borrowing would add to bonds voters previously approved for a total debt of $1.2 billion. Without Measure J, property owners will pay about $147 for every $100,000 assessed value in 2013-14. With Measure J, the rate would increase to a 2020 peak of about $197.
Property owners also pay $195 annually toward ongoing district operations. For a home assessed at a district average $274,000, the total extra tax bill for bonds and operations would increase from $598 to $735 if Measure J passes.
Yes on San Ramon Valley Measure D: This $260 million bond measure would fund renovations and additions throughout the district. When added to outstanding bonds, the measure would raise total outstanding debt to about $515 million.
Repayment on the new debt would ratchet up over 15 years as old bonds are retired. The district projects tax rates would only increase from $70 to $75 per $100,000 of assessed value. Property owners also pay a flat $144 a year toward ongoing district operations.
For a home assessed at a district median $632,000, the total bill would reach $618 in 2013-14 if Measure D passes.
Yes on Antioch Measure B: This affects about 60 percent of the district in the older sections of the city. Residents in newer neighborhoods pay other school construction taxes and are not affected.
Affected residents already owe $40 million for bonds approved in 2008. Measure B would add $56.5 million. The new money would go for modernizing Antioch High School.
If voters approve Measure B, their tax bills for school bonds would nearly double from about $56 for every $100,000 of assessed value to about $106, and reach about $125 per $100,000 by 2023. For a home assessed at a current average $141,500, that's $177 a year.
The rates could be higher if property values don't increase as quickly as district officials optimistically forecast.
Yes on Knightsen Measure H: The elementary district built a second school funded in part by a loan. The loan was to be repaid with anticipated developer fees from homes that were never built. The school was closed, but the debt remains.
Measure H would authorize a $3 million bond issue to pay off the construction loan. Bond repayment would cost homeowners $30 per $100,000 of assessed value until 2048.
For more information, go to insidebayarea.com/endorsements or contracostatimes.com/endorsements for the district tax rate projections and expenditure plans.