EUREKA UNION SCHOOL DISTRICT BOND MEASURE ON MARCH 3, 2020 BALLOT
On October 2, 2019, the Board of Trustees for the Eureka Union School District approved a resolution on a 5-0 vote to submit a general obligation bond measure to the District community for the statewide March 3, 2020 election. To review the resolution and corresponding documents go to the following links to view the Resolution and the Tax Rate Statement. The Placer County Elections Office has designated the District’s bond measure as “Measure A”. Measure A is a $49,000,000 bond measure that would provide funding for a number of District facility projects which include repairs and upgrades, safety needs, creating classrooms for tomorrow’s learners, sustainable energy and efficiency, and technology infrastructure. The bond measure projects are all listed in the District’s Facilities Master Plan. To learn about the District's roadmap for facility projects please go to the following website page Facilities Master Plan.
Facilities Needs at Eureka Schools and Measure "A": Frequently Asked QuestionsTop of Page
What is Measure “A”?
Measure “A” is a $49 million general obligation (GO) bond measure that would make needed repairs and upgrades to District schools, and help preserve the District’s tradition of providing high-quality education to our students. Generally, these projects include:
Upgrade classrooms, technology infrastructure, and computers and science labs to ensure our students have equal access to competitive 21st Century learning
Improve student and school site safety, including security fencing, lighting, and fire alarms
Repair older classrooms and other facilities, including leaky roofs and deteriorating restrooms
The District’s Facility Master Plan (which was developed over a period of several years) and more explanation about all our needs and priorities can be found on the District’s website at: Facilities Master Plan. While $49 million is far less than the total facilities needs of the District, the Board of Trustees determined that this figure represents a prudent amount to request from the local community.
Specific projects that will be funded by Measure “A” are contained in the project list, included with each voter’s sample ballot. Considerable community input shaped these priorities and the Board has refined this project list to focus on the most important facilities needs and projects.
How are facilities needs typically funded in California?
There are three main ways that a local public school district can receive funding for facilities, other than a GO bond. First, districts can collect local developer impact fees when new homes are constructed. However, the money can only be spent to accommodate a growing district (i.e. new students). The District is not a growing district so it may not be able to access its modest remaining developer fees. Second is through matching dollars available from the State’s Schools Facility Program (SFP). However, in order to receive matching funds, a local district must have its own source of funds. The typical manner of finding those local dollars is through passage of a local GO bond. The only other method of funding facilities repairs, upgrades and construction is for a district to pay for them out of its operating budget. Eureka is funded by the State at a lower per student level than the average elementary school district and that difference has widened every year since 2010-2011. So the District cannot afford to pay for critically needed repairs and upgrades of its aging schools on its own. The only practical avenue available for the District is a GO bond, hence the Board’s unanimous decision to place Measure “A” on the March 3, 2020 ballot.
Then what are GO bonds?
GO bonds are a form of voter-approved debt issued by school districts, commonly used to pay for capital improvements to classrooms and other school facilities. GO bonds are sold to investors and repaid by a property tax levy on all taxable property – residential, agricultural, commercial and industrial – located within District boundaries while the GO bonds are outstanding. GO bonds have funded a significant portion of school construction projects here in Eureka, throughout Placer County and across the State. They can help communities qualify for State matching funds as well.
What would Measure “A” cost me?
If Measure “A” is approved by voters, the projected annual tax rate levied to repay Measure “A” bonds is expected to be approximately $28.71 per $100,000 of a property’s taxable value. As examples, annual property tax increases will be about $144 for a home with an assessed value of $500,000, $215 for a home with an assessed value of $750,000 and $287 for a home with an assessed value of $1 million. Taxable values are typically lower than market value, due to Prop. 13 limits. If Measure “A” is approved and bonds are issued, the new tax will appear on property owners’ future property tax bills beginning in fiscal year 2020-21.
How long would we have to pay that amount?
Measure “A” property taxes would be levied during years that bonds are outstanding. Similar to a home loan, Measure “A” bonds are expected to be repaid over a period of approximately 30 years.
How much will the total repayment cost be?
Measure “A” will fund $49 million in capital facilities improvements. Repayment is projected to cost approximately $89.6 million, including principal and interest. This estimated repayment ratio of $1.83 for each dollar borrowed is similar to a typical home mortgage – though the specific amount will be determined by many factors that exist at the time that voter-approved GO bonds are actually sold (interest rates, bond market conditions, etc.). In addition, the District Board has imposed a cap on repayment to protect taxpayers. Specifically, Measure “A” does not allow bonds to be issued if the total repayment ratio would exceed 2.5 to 1 (or no more than $2.50 for every dollar borrowed), which is much less than the maximum $4.00 to $1.00 amount allowed by law.
Is Measure “A” responsible?
Understanding many of the concerns that have been raised about other school bond measures, Measure “A” has been written in accordance with all legal requirements, including transparency requirements in the form of citizens’ oversight and annual audits of bond spending. Also, Measure “A” includes additional binding covenants, such as a limit on the repayment ratio and a prohibition on the issuance of capital appreciation bonds, which can be a costly form of financing.
Will Capital Appreciation Bonds be allowed?
No. Measure “A” expressly prohibits the issuance of capital appreciation bonds.
Are there additional safeguards for taxpayers?
State law requires an independent citizens’ oversight committee and annual audits to ensure that GO bond proceeds are only spent on voter-approved projects improving classrooms and facilities in Eureka Union, and not used for teachers’ or administrators’ salaries or any other purpose.
What about other money from the District or the State to finance facilities costs?
Changes to the State funding formula mean public school districts like the District are getting relatively less money each year from Sacramento. And for most school districts throughout the State, annual revenues are generally sufficient for classroom activities, programs and instruction, but not enough to meet facilities needs as well. Additionally, the funds that are available from Sacramento for school facilities improvements (SFP) generally require a local match – so without a local investment, it will likely be impossible for our local schools to qualify for those State funds, leaving our school facilities and classrooms to slowly deteriorate and fall behind. The District does have some modest funds available (e.g. remaining Developer Fees, JPA funds with neighbors, etc.), but they may not be accessible and are not sufficient to meet any significant portion of our facilities needs.
While we will continue to work to obtain as much other funding as possible, we will inevitably have more needs that cannot be met. Faced with tens of millions of dollars of essential capital facilities improvements, the Board considered all options, sought considerable input from the community (which shaped priorities and the overall plan), and ultimately decided to place Measure “A” on the March 3, 2020, ballot.
How is school funding determined then?
Prop. 98 guarantees a minimum amount that the State must provide to fund public education. However, a law called the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) determines the amount of funding individual school districts receive. The LCFF allocates more money to districts depending on the number of students who are English Language learners, who are foster children or who come from low income households. The District has fewer students who fall into one of those three categories and therefore receives lower funding. And the number and type of students a district serves does not prevent schools from aging and needing repairs and upgrades.
What about Eureka’s enrollment? Isn’t it declining?
Enrollment is of course an important factor when considering facilities needs and improvements. The facts are that the District’s enrollment began declining dramatically fifteen years ago with an overall loss of approximately 900 students – but then began leveling off about nine years ago. While it is accurate that our number of students has declined, we have since stabilized enrollment at around 3,350-3,400 in recent years. To mitigate the reduction in past enrollment, Inter-district Transfers increased by approximately 400 students. These transfers allow some students from outside the District to attend Eureka schools and provides additional State funding to help educate them, which improves our overall operating budget and ensures that we can keep our schools open. Most importantly, however, we feel our current enrollment at all District schools is the nearly perfect number of students to create the ideal classroom environment throughout the District. And each campus has important capital improvement needs that must be addressed in the near future to bring them up to date.
Aren’t Eureka schools already good enough?
Eureka Union School District does take pride in the fact that we have provided – and continue to provide – generations of our students with a rigorous, quality education. Indeed, District students have the highest test scores in Placer County. However, the vast majority of the District’s classrooms and other learning spaces (i.e. libraries, computer labs, science labs) are antiquated and do not provide the kind of environment that matches the type of teaching and learning that is required for student success in the 21st Century. Similarly, most classrooms and facilities in Eureka Union were built decades ago and are in serious need of repairs and basic health and safety upgrades (e.g. leaky roofs). Measure “A” would make needed repairs and help meet the District’s goal of expanding and enhancing 21st Century learning environments.
What about the other bonds we have already approved?
Prior District GO bonds – approved in 1993 – were combined with developer fees to build new schools and accommodate our growing student population in the 1990s. For fiscal year 2019-20, the combined tax rate levied to provide funds to repay Eureka’s bonds is $18.25 per $100,000 of assessed value. For comparison, of the nine school districts in Placer County with GO bonds outstanding, Eureka’s existing tax rate for school bonds is among the lowest. Furthermore, while the County’s calculations may slightly alter rates up or down in any given year, the District’s tax authorization for its existing bonds will expire in a few more years, due to the approaching full repayment of the 1993 bond authorization on August 1, 2022. After the 1993 GO bonds are repaid, the authorized tax for those bonds will no longer appear on the annual tax rolls.
Who can vote on Measure “A”?
All of the registered voters within the boundaries of the District will be able to vote on Measure “A”. If 55% approve Measure “A”, the District will be authorized to issue the GO bonds.
What happens without Measure “A”?
Essential repairs and improvements to District schools will be delayed or may not happen, which could lead to substantially higher facilities costs in the future.
Will there be open houses or tours of the District’s campuses?
Learn more about Measure “A” at tours and open houses that will take place in January and early February. Dates and times for those events will be made public once they are finalized.
Who Can I Contact?
Please feel free to contact any of the Board Members or Superintendent Tom Janis at (916) 774-1202 or firstname.lastname@example.org with any thoughts or other questions, or to schedule some other time to visit any of our schools.