The Cloverdale Unified School District has put Measure H, a general obligation bond measure, on the Nov. 6 ballot, which will authorize the sale of up to $46 million in bonds to the district. If approved, the bond money will go toward improving school facilities, modernizing classrooms and replacing deteriorating plumbing, amongst other things. (See sidebar for a list of projects that would be authorized to be financed by the bond.)
If approved, Measure H will allow the district to issue and sell general obligation bonds as they undertake different projects.
In addition, Preston Addison, president of the Cloverdale Unified School District Board of Trustees, noted that the district currently qualifies for matching construction funds from the state for projects relating to Jefferson Elementary School. However, the matching dollars are only available “if we as a community put up money.”
As part of the decision to put the bond on the November ballot, the board went through and looked at the facility needs, as well as tried to anticipate future district growth. “We anticipated Cloverdale growing and getting a lot more students,” said Addison. “Looking at that, we knew we were going to need to repair and upgrade buildings as well as potentially build new buildings.”
The Committee to Improve Cloverdale Schools, a committee of Cloverdale parents, formed in support of Measure H. When members of the committee were asked about why they personally support the measure, they discussed the measure’s potential to promote growth throughout Cloverdale and in Cloverdale schools.
“The more that we’re able to help make the school district as attractive as it can be to keep kids and parents from leaving, I think that’s helpful,” said Joanne Parker, a parent on the committee. “You want to come home and be with your kid and you’ll do all of your shopping in town, rather than having another life and another community. It’s what makes a community comfortable for everybody and is vital to having everybody active and vibrant.”
By creating an environment that parents want to put their children in, the committee believes that parents are then more likely to turn around and spend more money, time and energy in town.
“It’s so hard when you go to other districts and you see the other resources and enrichment programs that they have in their facilities and you know you can have that in our own community,” said Brandon Axell, another parent on the committee. “We always hear of people going out of district, you just don’t want to see that happen.”
According to the district’s tax rate statement, the estimated highest tax rate necessary to fund the bond is $60 per $100,000 assessed value (so if the assessed value of someone’s home is $400,000, they would be expected to pay $240 per year). If all of the bonds are sold, the total debt service will be $97 million; the tax will raise approximately $2.7 million per year. According to the district’s evaluation, the final fiscal year in which the tax will be collected is anticipated as being 2052-53.
The last general obligation bond proposed by the school board (Measure G) was in 2010 and passed with 55.6 percent of the vote. The money from the measure went toward paying for the Cloverdale High School Maker Space, getting new bleachers, developing more energy efficient classrooms, as well as other improvements.
Should Measure H receive 55 percent or more of the vote, the district’s first priority would be working on Jefferson Elementary. “The first priority is student classroom needs,” said Addison. “We definitely have a need at the elementary school for classrooms and PE multipurpose facilities. Those should be a high priority because we will get matching dollars from the state.”
Addison, Parker, Axell and Elvia Osnaya (a parent on the Committee to Improve Cloverdale Schools) all mentioned the bond being a step toward supporting current and future students in the district. “Why not give our community the schools that our children, our future children deserve,” asked Osnaya.
There was no argument against Measure H submitted to the Sonoma County Registrar of Voters. According to Daniel Drummond, executive director of the Sonoma County Taxpayers Association, a group that usually takes in interest in local bond measures, his organization has not taken a stance on Measure H.
“Our community’s children will be the ones whose work will pay for our Social Security, our pensions, our roads, our society. It is our civic responsibility to provide a free and equitable public education for the future taxpayers,” said Addison. “As a third generation educator and a fifth generation Californian, I am deeply committed to our children and hope our community is as well. They are literally the future of our democracy and deserve our support.”