June 20, 2006

School Bond Community Meeting

The San Leandro Unified School District's second Community Forum was held on Monday, June 19, 2006, at the San Leandro High School cafeteria. The purpose of the meeting was to get input from the community for placing a school bond measure on the November 2006 ballot.

The attendance at this meeting was noticeably less than the May 31st meeting, with the crowd estimated between 50 and 60 people. School board trustees Stephen Cassidy, Pauline Cutter, Ray Davis, Linda Perry, and Rick Richards were present, but Lisa Hague and Louis Heystek did not attend.

Superintendent Christine Lim ran through a PowerPoint presentation highlighting the various issues surrounding a bond measure, especially the need to prioritize the man needs and desires of the community and the school district.

The reasons given for pursuing a bond were to address overcrowding, renovate and modernize the schools, to gain potential matching funds from a state bond that will also be on the November ballot and to take advantage of Proposition 39, which allows school bonds to pass with 55% approval in even-year elections.

In order for the bond to be improved, the voters must approve the amount of the bond and the projects that funds from the bond will be used for. The funds from the bond must be used for capital improvements - they cannot be used to pay for salaries - and the funds are issues as needed over the 25-year term of the bond. In addition, regulations stipulate that a citizen's advisory committee must be established to oversee bond expenditures and make reports to the school board. Annual financial and performance audits are also required.

According to one slide, here are the 2005-2006 tax rates for Alameda County School Districts:

District	Tax rate per $100,000 of assessed value
Berkeley USD			$142.60
Albany USD			$131.60
New Haven USD			$116.90
Newark USD			$114.80
Piedmont USD			$88.40
Pleasanton USD			$85.40
Livermore Valley USD		$83.00
Dublin USD			$81.70
Oakland USD			$78.00
Castro Valley USD		$71.80
Alameda USD			$51.70
Fremont USD			$43.30
Sunol Glen USD			$40.80
San Leandro USD			$35.80
San Lorenzo USD			$23.90
Emery USD			$18.90

Based on feedback from the previous forum, the categories under consideration were:

1. District-wide school-site modernization
2. Secondary overcrowding
3. Potential projects w/9th grade academy
4. 7th/8th grade Opportunity School
5. Burrell Field renovation
6. Jefferson multipurpose room
7. Other potential bond projects

School site modernization consisted of new roofing, new ceiling and lights, painting walls, new flooring, new marker boards, restroom modernizations, technology (data and VOIP), health, safety and code, and high-priority heating systems at a total estimated cost of $62 million.

Secondary overcrowding included three options for a 9th grade academy: on campus ($31m), one block away off campus ($32m/$37m) and across the street off campus ($32m). Potential projects with a 9th grade academy included a performing arts center ($17m), auxiliary gym ($5m), library expansion ($900k) and the PG&E easement for a parking lot ($4m).

The 7th/8th grade opportunity school consisted of adding a building at John Muir Middle School for at-risk students at an estimated $3 million. Options for Burrell Field ranged from recondition the cinder track for $200k up to replacing the field lights, restroom building, bleachers, drinking fountains and fence for $4 million.

The Jefferson multipurpose room could could be modernized for $1.6 million or be a newly constructed building for $3.5 million. Other potential bond projects included purchasing the parking lot across from Bancroft Middle School for $350k and expanding the new adult school at the corner of Williams and Leonard Drive for $900k.

After one attendee questioned the $4 million estimated cost for the parking lot and the $900,000 for the library expansion, Roxanne Ansolabehere, the librarian for San Leandro High School, noted that the school library has just seven books per student. She compared this to the 15 books per student average in California and 25 books per student nationally, but saw the expansion as a good start. Assistant Superintendent Glaster stated that the bond funds could not be used to books and instructional materials, but he expected some money from Proposition 98 this year could be used for such things.

After comments and questions from the audience, the attendees split into four working groups to discuss the options in greater detail and prioritize each of the various options. The results will be presented at the next school board meeting on Tuesday, June 20, 2006.

The remainder of the schedule for the bond measure includes finalizing the project list in July and submitting a board-approved bond measure to the county by August 11, 2006.

Posted by Mike Katz-Lacabe at June 20, 2006 1:19 AM | TrackBack
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