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Voices from the Media

Pomona Unified Votes to Remove
Ballot Measure from Nov. 4 Ballot

Monica Rodriguez, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin, July 31, 2014

POMONA School board members voted 4-0 Thursday morning to rescind a resolution they approved in the spring that would have asked voters to reauthorize Measure PS on the Nov. 4 ballot.

Reauthorizing the 2008 voter-approved Measure PS was meant to facilitate selling bonds to carry out various modernization projects at Pomona Unified schools after the economic downturn.

Board member Andrew Wong abstained from voting on the grounds he had not voted to place the matter on the ballot. When the board voted May 21 to approve placing the item on the ballot, Wong cast the single opposing vote.

With the school board voting to rescind its previous action, the needed paperwork was expected to be submitted to the Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk's Office on Thursday, said Leslie Barnes, assistant superintendent of business services and chief financial officer.

Barnes said she planned to deliver the documents herself.

Earlier this week Barnes suggested the board take steps to remove the measure from the ballot.

When voters approved the $235 million Measure PS, an assumption was made that assessed valuation of property in the district would increase 3 percent annually.

Instead of increasing, property values in the district declined as a result of the economic downturn, limiting the district's bonding capacity.

Property taxes provide the means to repay bonds.

Of the $235 million Measure PS, the district was able to sell about $120 million worth of bonds to complete a number of projects around the district but leaving about $115 million that could not be sold, Barnes said.

The district has received information that shows the 2013-14 fiscal year assessed valuation increased by 4.33 percent, giving the district the opportunity to use about $25 million of the remaining $115 million, Barnes said.

Taking the ballot measure off the ballot could be helpful if board members decide to pursue another general obligation bond in two years.

Seeking to reauthorize Measure PS could be confusing for voters, school board President Frank Guzman said.

Voters might wonder why the district would seek one measure, then ask for another a few years later, he said.

Guzman said the board has not discussed pursuing another bond but he hopes it will pursue one in the future because it would make it possible to pay for additional school improvements.

"We still have a lot of work to do," Guzman said.

Various upgrades are needed to facilitate technology requirements that have resulted from adopting academic standards that require greater use of technology.

Board member Roberta Perlman said it's difficult to say if another bond should be sought when funding-related issues change so quickly in education.

However, if the need existed she could support such a concept.

The $25 million the district will now be able to access could be significant.

In a large district like Pomona Unified "$25 million only goes so far but we can do good things with that money," Perlman said.


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