Measure X: Slim 18 Vote Loss in June Leads District to Place Another School Renovation Bond on Ballot
Measure X is a $10 million dollar general bond placed on the ballot this year by the Southern Humboldt Unified School District (SHUSD) in order to fund renovations and finish projects for the schools under its direction–Redway, Whitethorn, Weott and Casterlin elementary schools, the Miranda Junior High School, South Fork High School and the Osprey Learning Center.
SHUSD estimates that this measure will add an additional $43 per every $100,000 of assessed value (not market value but what the property is assessed by the County for tax purposes.) Thus a property taxed at a value of $200,000 will have an additional $86 added.
If Measure X passes, School Board members, Blake Lehman and Thomas Mulder, say that the school will not only be able to finish projects already begun but SHUSD will be able to borrow money at lower interest rates which will save taxpayers millions of dollars in the long run.
In the election held June 3 of this year, Measure N, a bond that Lehman says was very similar to Measure X, failed to pass by just 18 votes. Lehman and other supporters of Measure X are counting on Southern Humboldt residents to turn out in support of fixing up the schools.
There is no organized group fighting Measure X. However, some residents have complained that the language of the measure does not match promises that Board has made regarding retiring debt from earlier bonds. (Listen to KMUD’s excellent report on Measure X here.)
In an interview, Lehman and Mulder spoke about why they believed this current bond measure should pass. Lehman said, as a whole, school buildings in the district are “very old.” He said that over the years, “We haven’t had the money to put into them that other districts have.” However, in 2010 a school bond passed that allowed the new junior high to be built in Miranda. It allowed for extensive work done at Redway and Whitethorn elementary schools as well as at South Fork High School.
One of the projects funded by the 2010 bond.
Mulder explained that prior to the 2010 bond, “We haven’t passed a bond in almost 50 years.” Infrastructure suffered during this extensive time both he and Lehman pointed out.
The work started with the bond passed in 2010 is not yet finished in all the areas. In part, Mulder said, it is because “property values haven’t risen as much as projected.”
The bonds issued if Measure X passes would have much lower ratios. This, Lehman said, would allow the District to “sell the bonds more quickly. It will allow us to access the money earlier.”
“We have everybody in place to work now,” Lehman said. If the district has to wait to access more money from the earlier bond to complete construction projects, he explained, “construction costs will go up.” Lehman worried that local residents don’t understand how the measure will help area schools.
Mulder agreed and added, “Try to search out the facts. All the board members are available…I encourage people to get educated. Learn what is going on…and go and vote.”