A $268 million bond measure will be put to voters on the ballot in the election Tuesday, November 7th, the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District (SMMUSD) board of education decided at its meeting Thursday, August 3rd.
The $268 million amount was recommended by William Braham, chief financial officer for the district.If approved by voters in the November election, the bond measure would be used to improve health, safety and class instruction by:
n upgrading, acquiring, constructing, repairing and equipping classrooms, science labs, local neighborhood schools, sites and facilities;
n repairing, renovating outdated classrooms, bathrooms, plumbing, leaky roofs, computer technology, fire safety equipment;
n improving handicapped student accessibility;
n earthquake-retrofitting classrooms; and
n removing asbestos and
Also in the resolution was a Priority School Projects list:
n All district schools must be healthy and safe from earthquake risks, hazardous materials such as asbestos, mold and fire dangers.
n In repairing aging schools, priority will be given to basic repairs, such as leaky roofs, plumbing, electrical and utility systems.
n The district must replace deteriorating, 30-year old school restrooms with modern facilities.
n The district must manage class size by repairing existing classrooms and building new classrooms, particularly so that students can improve their academic performances.
n The district must not only install and upgrade fire prevention, security and emergency response systems at every school so that all students are safe, but make all repairs apply energy-saving and sustainability standards as well as principles of Collaborative for High Performance Schools (CHIPS).
n The district must aggressively apply for State matching funds and spend any local bond money exclusively on schools within the District and will not allow bond money to be transferred to the State or any other agency.
At the July 27th meeting, the board received a final report from the Bond Feasibility “Blue Ribbon” Committee, as well as information from other experts and staff and “wanted to be able to digest all the information before making an informed decision about how they want to move forward,” said Angela Anthony, spokeswoman for SMMUSD.
At the meeting, the Bond Feasibility Committee recommended a $400 million bond over 20 years, which they said would give a certain amount of flexibility.
The goal was for taxes to repay the bond not to exceed a $30 tax per $100,000 of assessed value, as polling results showed that voters seemed to support the bond measure if the tax did not exceed this amount.
Braham recommended that the board stay within his recommended $268 million range for the bond measure.
“I’m confident you can put a significant dent in the master plan with that amount of money,” Braham said. “I think you can bring significant improvements to all of our schools.”
At the board of education meeting Thursday, August 3rd, the board was provided with a set of various tax scenarios using not more than $30 per $100,000 of assessed value by Anthony Hsieh, vice president of PiperJaffray. The scenarios ranged from $268 to $398 million bond amounts and included issuance dates and time frames for the board to consider.
“Last week, we had a very lengthy discussion about it [the bond measure],” Braham said. “My suggestion to the board is that the board seek to review and endorse in the $268 million range.”
Members of the Bond Feasibility Committee spoke at the meeting as well.
“It was very important to the committee that it was aggressive,” said Gleam Davis, member of the Bond Feasibility Committee. “The amount itself needs to be enough to do something with it. It’s important to be aggressive to make some meaningful changes for our students.”
Craig Hamilton, also a member of the committee, agreed.
“For the board to succeed, we need you to demonstrate you’re willing to tackle tough problems,” Hamilton said to the board. “It’s an undercurrent that needs to be tackled.”
Board member Maria Leon-Vazquez said she understood Hamilton’s concerns.
“In the past, we haven’t been successful in doing things in a reasonable amount of time,” she said.
Hamilton also pointed out that, for voters to support the bond measure on the ballot, a large education campaign would have to be launched. Members of the board said they were interested in campaigning themselves. As long as they participated in their “private individual capacity,” and didn’t use district resources to campaign, it is allowed, said Phil Recht, an at- torney with Mayer, Brown, Rowe & Maw LLP, and the election law advisor to the board.
“I am really excited about the opportunity to have a collaboration,” said Kathy Wisnicki, vice president of the board. “I think it will be a great public relations campaign.”
After a lengthy discussion, the board agreed on the bond measure amount of $268 million, with a tax rate that will not exceed $30 per $100,000 of assessed value. The issuance time frame will be discussed at a later date.
The next board of education meeting is scheduled for Thursday, August 17th.