Sunol Glen Unified School District voters are being asked in the March 3 primary election to decide on a $9.5 million bond measure, which if approved would represent the small district's first new facilities bond issuance of the 21st century.
On the ballot as Measure O, the bond proceeds would fund a series of improvements to classroom buildings, technology and infrastructure, as well as a brand-new multipurpose room, at the nearly century-old campus on Main Street in Sunol that serves all of the students in the district.
"Measure O upgrades and repairs old, inadequate classrooms and facilities, improves the education of local children and maintains the quality of our community. That's something we can all support," wrote Sunol resident supporters of the new bond, led by School Board President Michael Picard, in the official ballot argument in favor of Measure O.
There was no ballot argument filed in opposition to the measure, which requires support from over 55% of voters to pass.
Surveys of prospective SGUSD voters conducted last year, before the school board advanced the measure to the ballot, found that between 66.7% and 70.4% of local voters were in favor of the bond proposal.
The bond measure would result in an annual tax of $59 per $100,000 of assessed valuation for properties within SGUSD boundaries.
Superintendent Molleen Barnes and her administration pointed out that SGUSD, which hasn't passed a new bond measure since 1999, boasts by far the lowest bond dollar passed per student for Alameda County public school districts -- though the others are kindergarten through 12th grade, while SGUSD is K-8 only.
SGUSD's bond-dollar-per-student ratio is $7,167, while every other district in the county has over $20,000 per student and the countywide average is $38,646.
As a result, funding available for school facilities in SGUSD continues to pace well below the growing need, according to Measure O supporters. Sunol Glen School at 11601 Main St., now a K-8 campus, was first built in 1925 and saw major additions in the 1950s and 1990s.
Some of the Measure O projects focus on fixing age and wear-and-tear issues, such as repair and replace leaky roofs; replace or upgrade aging infrastructure; upgrade inadequate and outdated electrical systems; renovate or replace aging plumbing and sewer systems; make security, safety and accessibility improvements; and energy-efficiency improvements.
The district also proposed to construct a modern technology, engineering and math lab, renovate and preserve the original 95-year-old school building, and “modernize, upgrade and renovate aging classrooms and restrooms.”
And the centerpiece of Measure O would be a new multipurpose room, replacing the 1950s cafeteria with a larger modern building for student gathering, gymnasium space and staff lounge. Plus, the new MPR would be open for community use or rental year-round as well as serve as an evacuation center if needed.
Measure O supporters also note that passing the new bond would position SGUSD to pursue matching funds from the state for facilities projects.
The property tax for the bond is expected to last through the 2054-55 fiscal year, and total debt service to repay all of the bonds (including principal and interest) is estimated at $19,295,001, according to the Alameda County Counsel’s Office impartial analysis of the measure.
In addition to Picard, the argument in favor of Measure O was signed by Sunol Citizens Advisory Committee member Constance DeGrange, former SGUSD superintendent/former trustee Diane Everett, Alameda County Fire Board commissioner Apolinario Ysit and Gerald Beemiller, owner of Nella Terra Cellars Winery and a former SGUSD trustee.
The official ballot question will ask SGUSD voters, "To improve the quality of education facilities; renovate electrical, plumbing and HVAC systems; repair/replace leaky roofs; and construct a multi-purpose room and technology, engineering, and math lab; shall Sunol Glen Unified School District's measure be adopted authorizing the issuance of $9,500,000 of bonds at legal interest rates, generating on average $535,972 annually as long as bonds are outstanding, at rates of approximately 5.9 cents per $100 assessed value, with annual audits, citizens' oversight, and no money for salaries?"