Measure E: School Officials are Feeling Optimistic

Measure "E" 25 Votes Short of Passing
June 13, 2008 8:37:42 PM PDT
The bond measure that would have paid for four new schools and refurbished older campuses at Central Unified is now just 25 votes short of passing. The latest count released just hours ago shows Measure "E" received 54.7-percent "yes" votes ... It needs 55-percent to pass.Assistant superintendent Mike Berg is surprised by the numbers. Central Unified went into the June election expecting much wider support for the 152-million dollar bond, and believes the weak economy is to blame.

"A lot of that polling was done back in March and April ... and meanwhile, the economy continued to decline in the area-- fuel costs going up and so forth."

The district needs the money to build four new schools as it continues to grow. They expect 4,000 new students in the next five years.

But Chris Mathys of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association which opposes Measure "E", says that growth should have provided the money needed for new facilities.

"If you go west of the 99 and look, there is tract after tract of new homes that were built in the last five years. Every one of those homeowners is paying property tax-- all of that is new money that the district gets."

But Berg says even with a recent increase in developer fees in the area-- the bond is necessary to qualify for 80-million in state funding.

"The state's formula requires that you seek local funding in order to access the matching funds from the state-- and that is what this bond was about."

If the measure does not pass the district plans to put another one on the ballot. It can also request hardship funding, but that would only provide 70-80 percent of the money the district needs ... And deteriorating campuses like Central High West would see no renovations at all.

"It will only fund new schools, growth schools-- so the capacity to house more children. It does not fund improvements to existing schools."

School officials are feeling optimistic. Two days ago the measure was 35 votes short passing, today it's only 25, and there are still provisional votes to be counted. Some measure supporters say, if the measure goes down to defeat, they will ask for a re-count.


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