Voices from the Media
Message from Lynda Johnson
Lynda Johnson, Facebook, June 29, 2014
Dear ABC Community:
The ABC Unified School District is looking into a bond measure to fund projects such as facility upgrades, improve technology and to create a 21st century learning environment. The Board of Education is tasked with the decision to approve a resolution for a bond measure, and if approved, will be placed on the November 2014 ballot.
The proposed bond measure is for approximately $235 million dollars. A bond is not free money. If approved, taxpayers will pay up to $60 per $100,000 of the assessed value of their property. The assumption is that the bond will be issued in 3 series: 2015, 2018 and 2021 and will have a 30-year amortization. The bond will be used to address the needs of the schools based on the guidelines of the Facilities Master Plan. It cannot be used for teacher salaries. In 1997, voters approved a $59 million bond measure that was used for the schools modernization program. The 1997 Bond Modernization funded architectural and structural repairs, mechanical systems repairs, plumbing systems repairs and electrical systems repairs. All these repairs were much needed at that time and all K-12 ABC schools were modernized. At this time there is still $42 million outstanding on the 1997 bond and is due to be paid off in 2034.
Facilities Master Plan:
The Facilities Master Plan is still a work in progress and the Board of Education will be asked to accept the plan at the July 8th meeting. This is a master plan that is a long range planning tool intended to provide a pathway forward to address pending facilities and related projects for the foreseeable future. The FMP is a plan for the next 20+ years that focuses on our elementary, middle and high schools as well as our adult school and district facilities. It is a $648 million project. It is not a wish list. It is a not a plan of "what will happen". It is a plan of "what MAY happen." The FMP is not a funding document or a needs assessment plan. It is a document that identifies projects and provides a cost estimation for that project. A more specific project list will be prepared that meets the individual needs of each of the schools and one that can be implemented based on the available funds from the bond. Extensive discussion and planning will be needed to prepare the project list for each school site. The community and all stakeholders are encouraged to give their input for the Facilities Master Plan and for the project list.
Benefits of a bond measure:
A bond measure would enable the district to use the funds from a bond measure to immediately address the basic needs of facilities, school safety, improve technology and provide a 21st century learning environment. The district does not have the funds to complete a multi-million dollar project at this time, therefore, a bond measure would provide funds now that would otherwise take years to accomplish.
How does this affect ABC residents:
As a Governing Member of the Board of Education, it is my fiduciary obligation to make sure that I have done the necessary due diligence to make sure that I have looked at all aspects of the pros and cons of a bond measure. I strongly support the needs of the district to provide better classrooms, facilities, improve technology and to ensure a world class education. A bond measure can certainly help make this happen. However, I also have a duty to my constituents to inform them of how a bond measure will affect them. If approved, a bond measure will:
- Cost taxpayers up to $60 per $100,000 of their assessed property value. This can be anywhere from approximately $200 - $400 extra per year on your property tax bill depending on the assessed value of your home.
- The district approved a $59 million bond in 1997 for modernization and there is currently an outstanding balance of $42 million left on that bond that will be paid off in 2034. Residents are currently paying on this bond at a rate of $28 per $100,000 of their assessed property value. A new bond will be added to your property tax bill.
- Senior citizens are not exempt from the added tax of a bond measure.
- The Facilities Master Plan is a $648 million dollar project. The proposed bond measure is for $235 million. The bond will only be able to fund less than 1/3 of the district’s needs. From the $235 million, added fees need to be paid to the bond advisor, the bond counsel, the bond underwriter and will also include the required 10% program reserve, which is needed for any unexpected rise in cost of materials and/or increase in contract fees.
What you can do as a member of the ABC community:
The board needs to adopt a Facilities Master Plan and as your board member, I want to make sure that the community is fully informed of what is in the master plan and how it will affect your school. These are your schools and your input is important.
I encourage all of you to share with me your thoughts and your input. I also encourage you to attend our next school board meeting that will be held on July 8th. The July 8th meeting will be a Special Study session that will involve the Facilities Master Plan and the exploration of a proposed bond measure. On July 15th, the board will consider the proposed bond measure and will vote to decide if it will be placed on the November 2014 ballot. Please come and listen, discuss and be informed on July 8th at 6:00pm and also on July 15th at 7:00pm at the District Office.
As your board member:
As your board member, I represent all members of the ABC community....parents, students, teachers and residents. I will diligently do my best to ensure that I make the best decision for the ABC community. A matter of such a financial magnitude requires extensive research as well as significant community input. I am certainly supportive of a project that will provide a world class environment. However, in order to provide such a project, I recommend that the community and stakeholders be involved with the Facilities Master Plan before the board accepts the final plan. I also recommend that further discussion, such as exploring alternative funding options, is needed before we commit to a bond measure that is one quarter of a billion dollars.
My duty is to protect the interest of the residents. That is my duty and that is what I will accomplish.
Thank you for this opportunity to have me represent you as a member of the Board of Education. I will continue to advocate for all of our students in all the 6 cities that we serve and to represent and protect the interest of all of our ABC residents.
You can reach me by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or on my cell phone number at (310) 650-6159. I look forward to hearing from you.
Vice President, Board of Education
ABC Unified School District