By Robert Haugh
The Santa Clara Unified School District Board is having a special meeting today to discuss a possible bond measure.
This is interesting because last year the board looked like it would put a $875 million bond measure on the June 2018 ballot — their 4th in 14th years.
The District previously issued:
- a $419 million bond in 2014,
- an $81.1 million bond in 2010, and
- a $315 million bond in 2004.
That’s about $1.7 billion since 2004. Wow. That’s more than the cost to build Levi’s Stadium. We hope the board — or the public — asks a lot of questions about the expenditure plans.
We’re hearing that the district needs the money to dramatically increase the size of the new high school. Plus, certain past bond projects were delayed or not started so now they are way more expensive to build.
It’s also interesting that the district is thinking about moving from June 2018 to November 2018. Their switch may put them into direct conflict with the City who is considering putting a measure on the November ballot for parks and other needs.
Some people think this will hurt both measures. So why would the district move to November?
Last year, a state law, AB 195, was passed. It requires bond measures to tell the public in the ballot title how much the measure will cost and the public would pay.
According to the districts’ pollster, True North Research, giving voters the financial info will drop support for measure, so they should look at a November election to improve their chances. That’s interesting because last September, the same pollster gave a report to the board that said there was only a one percent difference between a June and November election for the bond measure they tested.
Also, the True North poll was done in August, 2017 — that’s a month after the AB 195 legislation was passed. Looks like they weren’t aware of it so they did not put the financial information in the poll that they did for the district last year. Whoops.
It’ll also be interesting to see what the district’s Superintendent Dr. Stan Rose has to say. He’s asking for permission to “allow the Superintendent discretion to improve the ballot question in response to the urgency legislation under consideration.” Is the district pushing or hoping for new legislation that will allow it to hide or leave out financial information for the voters? Hope not.
This decision and the Districts’ actions will be something we watch closely. Stay tuned voters and taxpayers.