School bond measure headed for November ballot
Trustees Llaniss Dickinson, Amy Owens, Amy Cain and Kevin Stafford voted to approve the resolution. President John Murrer did not attend the meeting. The board’s resolution required a two-thirds majority to pass.
The trustees also hired Lorenzo Smith, a Sacramento law firm, to provide legal services for the district. According to the agreement, the firm will be paid only if the bond election is successful and the bonds are actually issued.
Gary McIntire, superintendent of the SSD, said the district’s schools have significant building needs, especially following the discovery of the major facility flaws at Diamond View School.
If the district does not get the bond measure on the November 2008 ballot, it must wait until the 2010 election.
“Our district has twice before sought the support of our community to authorize the issuance of school bonds to provide us with the funds to make the kinds of improvements to our schools we desperately need,” McIntire said. “We have not been successful in our previous attempts to pass a school bond.”
McIntire said it’s important voters realize the state does not fully fund school construction or modernization projects.
He said the formula used by the state to determine its contribution to school projects is fairly complicated.
For example, the state will match new school construction money 50/50 but will split 60/40 for modernization projects.
Since Diamond View School, closed last month by the Susanville Fire Department for safety reasons, may require more than 50 percent new construction, it may qualify as a new construction project.
The superintendent also said since the district had in excess of $5 million in bonding capacity, it probably would not qualify as a hardship, but the district plans to apply for hardship funding anyway.
Some schools find they have to cut corners and omit libraries or multipurpose rooms from their projects because there isn’t enough money, McIntire said.
The estimated cost of the school construction projects is $11 million. The district will ask the voters to approve the issuance of up to $9 million in funding, but will only issue the bonds as they are needed.
“Using local money, we can really make a difference,” McIntire said.
“It’s important for people to realize the district is 100 percent committed to operating Diamond View School,” McIntire said. “We’re working very hard to do just that.”
He also said many in the community believe the state will pay for the construction if the voters do not approve the bond measure. That also not true.
“The state expects us to pass a bond,” McIntire said. “The state expects the community to support its schools.”
The money crunch is so tight, and some services are so expensive, the district must pass the bond measure before it can begin to generate solid numbers as to the renovation or construction costs.
McIntire said the architect fees for installing portable buildings at McKinley School cost about $30,000. He estimated architect fees for Diamond View School would run at least $100,000.
“We can’t even sign a contract with an architect because we don’t have that kind of money,” McIntire said. “We need the public to understand that’s how desperately we need to pass this bond measure.”
Staff members at each of the district’s three schools responded to a site-specific survey to determine what potential improvements are needed at each school.
In his report to the trustees, McIntire said he took the top 10 improvements for each school site, compiled a list and ranked it by level of importance.
The greatest needs at Diamond View School were identified as electrical outlets in classrooms, bells that can be heard in every classroom, fire alarms, bigger classrooms, a security/paging system, door locks, student restrooms, general school layout, asphalt and staff restrooms.
The greatest needs at McKinley School were identified as asphalt repair, site drainage, cooling, playgrounds, flooring and carpet, concrete and sidewalks, paint for the walls, student and staff restrooms, parking and computers.
The greatest needs at Meadow View School were identified as parking, cooling, site drainage, bells, door locks, roof repairs, security/paging system, meeting rooms, doors and fire alarms.
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