With the passage of Measure Y, the Temecula Valley Unified School District’s $165 million facilities bond, and Proposition 30 for education funding, Temecula school district officials said today they are ready to move local schools forward.
The topic of boosting education funding once again showed wide support from Temecula voters, but more tempered support statewide. Measure Y won with 63.03 percent of the vote locally but Prop. 30 won by a much more narrow margin, receiving 53.9 percent of the vote statewide.
“We’re pretty happy,” Temecula Valley Unified School District Superintendent Tim Ritter said this morning. “Part of it is a natural sentiment out there among the people in the state of California and our community to want to support education and to want to support what’s best for our children. I think that is being reflected in our results.”
He continued, “It’s really validating to know our community truly believes in the value of an educated populace … It’s validating that they trust us and they believe in us, that we will do the right things to best provide for our students.”
Lori Ordway-Peck, TVUSD’s assistant superintendent of Support Services, said this morning that the passage of Measure Y shows, “People want to have local control.”
Measure Y is the TVUSD’s $165 million facilities improvement bond measure. The bond will cost $10 per $100,000 of assessed value for residential and commercial property owners. All funds stay in the district and cannot be spent on salaries or go to the state. An independent Citizens Oversight Committee will be established to monitor expenditures.
Prop. 30 increases personal income tax on Californians with annual earnings over $250,000 for seven years and it raises the state sales tax by a quarter cent for four years, allocating 89 percent of its revenues to K-12 schools and 11 percent to community colleges. California’s sales tax will increase from 7.25 percent to 7.5 percent for the next four years. (Many counties and cities have an additional local sales tax so the sales tax for a specific area may be higher than 7.5 percent.)
Annual revenue estimates from Prop. 30 in its first year range from $6 billion to $9 billion. The other education funding measure on the state ballot, Prop. 38, failed.
As for what happens next with Prop. 30, Ritter said the district will, “wait until the dust clears” then begin to work with teacher and employee unions to discuss the possibility of perhaps cancelling some of the school year’s remaining six furlough days or something else, depending on funding.
“We’ll look at all the options,” he said.
Ritter noted that Prop. 30 doesn’t return the TVUSD back to pre-2007 funding levels – before education budgets began being cut annually because of the ongoing state budget crisis – but it would hold off more cuts for the immediate future and take the district back to funding levels of a year ago.
“We’re hoping the money that comes in from Prop. 30 stabilizes education funding for a little bit. We don’t anticipate it will be an influx of a lot of new money. If it creates stability and some kind of model we can maintain ourselves, that’s a win. It’s nice to know where we are. Up until this morning, we were in this perpetual state of limbo. That’s a great relief. Now we have direction,” Ritter said.
As for Measure Y bond funds, the district has a project list and will need to develop a formal plan list with school board, Ordway-Peck said. TVUSD will likely try to sell bonds in four stages, depending on the market, every two to three years to raise money steadily over the life of the bond.
“We need to match up the projects we want to accomplish with the needs of our community,” Ordway-Pack said, adding that the district hopes to get the first round of bonds to market next spring and begin issuing some work contracts late next spring or early next summer.
“I know that one of their highest priorities is technology and technology would affect all of our campuses,” Ordway-Peck said.
According to a fact sheet on the TVUSD website, Measure Y funds will be spent to upgrade or add classrooms, science labs, computer systems and technology infrastructure; be used to renovate and modernize facilities and equipment to provide new and expanded career technical programs and advanced courses in math, science, and technology; improve energy efficiency; fund arts programs; repair and replace roofs, floors, walkways, lighting, electrical and plumbing systems; and other upgrades to help reduce overcrowding.
Amy Bentley is a local writer and regular contributor to SWRNN.