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Memo To: Board of Directors League of Women Voters of the

Claremont Area
Date: September 19, 2010
From: Jack Mills, Vice President Action

The following resolution is submitted for your consideration at our


meeting on September 22nd. It is requested that we consider and vote
on the resolution on the same night, as a delay in LWV’s endorsement
will minimize its potential positive impact.

RESOLUTION

That the League of Women Voters of the Claremont Area support and
publically endorse the passage of local Measure CL.

DESCRIPTION

Measure CL will generate $95,000,000 through general obligation


bonds. Measure CL is structured according to the provisions of
California’s Proposition 39, which passed in 2000 with support from
LWV-California. Measure CL is on the November 2, 2010 ballot and
requires 55% approval among the votes cast in order to pass. The
measure will appear on the ballots of voters living within the
boundaries of the Claremont Unified School District, which are
somewhat different than the City of Claremont boundaries. If passed,
property owners residing within school district boundaries will be
assessed $45 per $100,000 of assessed valuation of taxable property—
usually an amount lower than market valuation and determined when
the property was purchased. If passed, the first year property tax
assessments will be levied is most likely November, 2011. CUSD has
the option of selling Measure CL bonds at up to either 25 or 40 year
maturities.

Funds that Measure CL generates will be allocated in the following


way:

Technology $22,189,862 23.36%

Safety Repair & Modernization $48,412,886 50.96%

Sustainability $14,395,562 15.15%

Retire Debt to Offset State Budget Cuts $10,000,000 10.53%

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TOTAL $94,998,310 100.00%

Technology: Measure CL funds capital and infrastructure improvements


for technology. Purchases will be phased over the life of the bonds in
order to stay current with technological advances. Enhanced
technology is necessary both as a way to deliver instruction as well as
a skill students must develop to be competitive in the 21st century
economy. Every classroom and every child in CUSD will be impacted by
the Measure CL money in the area of technology. Each room will have
projection, sound and software installed. Learning centers will be
included at both the elementary and secondary locations. The network
infrastructure will be upgraded to increase fiber speed to 100mbit for K
– 8 and to 1Gbit at El Roble and CHS. Wireless access will be
expanded to all school sites. Online/Distance learning will become
accessible to ensure that all students that graduate from CUSD will
have the opportunity to be enrolled in at least one on-line class.

Safety, Repair and Modernization: Maintaining school facilities is a


constant process. Many of Claremont’s facilities were built in the 1950s
and 1960s. Measure Y was the first significant funding in many years
that could be used for building upkeep. More needs to be done.
Having buildings in better repair means they are safer for kids and
reduces the likelihood of property damage, catastrophic maintenance
costs and reduced exposure to liability from safety issues.

Sustainability: CUSD’s estimates that Measure CL projects will result in


a $100,000 annual savings in energy costs. The district believes there
is a strong possibility of even greater savings in the future as energy
costs escalate. More importantly the energy savings and “greening” of
the facilities and practices will reduce the district’s carbon footprint.

Retire Debt: Measure CL funds will retire debt originally incurred for
capital expenditures, such as air conditioning the schools in the late
1990s and leases or purchases of copy machines, telecommunication
equipment and computers. The resulting savings in interest payments
will be used to help support academic programs and minimize difficult
cuts in staffing.

RATIONALE

Measure CL is a means to accomplish League of Women Voters


positions at the National, State, County and Local levels in support of:

• Equal access to education;

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• Sound fiscal and administrative policies which provide sufficient
funds for operation expense and capital improvement;

• A system of public education funding that is adequate, flexible,


equitable, reliable and sustainable; derived from a combination
of revenue sources; and distributed fairly to support access and
equitable opportunities for all students;

• Communities that can be sustained over the long term without


damage to the environment, minimizing resource consumption.

Planned expenditures of Measure CL funds meet LWV-California’s


definition of access and equitable opportunity for all children, including
provisions for a safe school environment and clean healthy facilities in
good repair, with seating for all students.

Measure CL complies with the intent of State and Local League


positions regarding the use of public financing for educational and
capital improvement programs, including provision for as much local
control as possible over local schools, and use of bond financing for:

• Construction of capital projects;

• Repair and retrofitting of existing public facilities and structures


when other means of financing are not available;

• Provision of voter approval of local bond measures by a simple


majority vote (in the case of Measure CL, 55% of those voting
must approve in order to pass).

LWVC’s Action Guide in support of Proposition 39 listed the following


“Important Points” which are as germane to the current situation the
Claremont School District faces as they were state-wide in 2000:

• California classrooms are among the most crowded in the nation now,
and a growing population will only worsen the situation if new facilities are
not built. The problem is complicated by new requirements for lower class
size, which are stretching existing facilities.

• Many of the existing facilities are old and in dire need of repair, and
most still need to be wired to accommodate the teaching and use of new
information technology.

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• Proposition 39 requires local districts to list in advance the projects that
will be paid for, and to have independent financial and performance audits
done to ensure that the money was spent as promised.

• Bond money may not be used for salaries or administration. A citizen


watchdog committee will inform the public of how bond funds are spent and
take steps to stop any project if audits show wasteful or unauthorized
spending.

ISSUES AND POTENTIAL CONCERNS

State Responsibility for Education Funding

LWV-California positions on State and Local Finances state that


responsibility for education public funding resides with the state.

Response: According to a 2010 EdSource report California ranked 28th


among states in its per pupil expenditures in 2007/08. When these
numbers are adjusted for labors costs (due to the high cost of living),
California’s rank falls to 43rd. California high schools have half as many
teachers as found nationally. This was before massive state budget
cuts took effect in Fall 2008. California’s percentage of personal
income devoted to K-12 education was below the national average.
California’s budget gap is about $19 billion. Due to the state’s inability
to adequately support public education, CUSD received $17 million less in
state funding than anticipated over the last two years. CUSD has been in the
budget cutting mode for several years, eliminating teaching and
administrative positions and requiring employees to contribute greater
amounts toward healthcare benefits in order to avoid even more
layoffs.

Cost to Taxpayers

Bonds sold under Measure Y will be retired in approximately 18 years


and at the same time, assessments to property owners for Measure CL
bonds could continue for up to 40 years. Property owners are already
being assessed for Measure Y bonds at approximately $75 per
$100,000 of assessed valuation. Measure CL will add another $45 per
$100,000 valuation.

Response: There is no denying that Measure CL will add to the cost of


owning property. The only means to raise revenue that state law gives
to local school districts involves some type of assessment on property.
According to EdSource, California ranks 14th among states in percent of

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personal income paid in taxes but below the US average for the
percent of personal income devoted to K-12 education. Meanwhile,
California spends 53% more per capita on corrections than the national
average. A long-term policy of locking up young adults instead of
educating them can only lead to further downward spiral.

Perceived Mismanagement of Measure Y Funds

Critics of Measure CL claim that bond funds raised ten years ago
through local Measure Y were mismanaged. In fact, some promised
projects such as renovation of the high school theater and building a
new elementary school on the La Puerta site were not accomplished.
School site renovations, other than at Vista del Valle, did not go as far
as planned.

Response: Measure Y passed June 6, 2000 with a 68.9% affirmative


vote. Immediately following passage, CUSD prepared a detailed
financial report resulting in a rare “AA” bond rating. The first phase of
construction began in the summer of 2001. Severe construction cost
escalation and gold rush for construction contractors created by the
Division of the State Architect both hit in May 2004, causing plans to
be scaled back.

Measure Y funds were not wasted. They were spent on the construction
projects promised in the Measure Y campaign. There were no
superfluous or unplanned projects added later, other than what was
required by law or as a result of unforeseeable contingencies, for
example, the extent of necessary asbestos abatement or the condition
of electrical or structural components inside the walls were in some
cases not known until the wall was open-up during construction.

Many of the promised Measure Y projects were completed:

• Complete modernization at Vista Del Valle;


• Significant modernization/renovation throughout CHS, including a
new science wing and lockers;
• Modernization at El Roble and San Antonio HS;
• Community gym at El Roble;
• Claremont High sports fields and seating.

Modernization projects were conducted at every elementary school.


This work took place over two summers: 2004 and 2005. Most of these
projects involved basic infrastructure and so are not visible. However,
these projects made facilities ready for internet/data communications,
increased safety and reduced risk by replacing:

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• Electrical panels
• Electrical conduit
• Water and sewer lines (witness problems in City of LA when
these lines age and spring leaks)
• Seismic shut off valves for gas lines
• Automatic fire alarm systems

Above ground renovations at all facilities included:

• New classroom doors, door thresholds and restrooms that could


serve handicapped persons
• Wheel chair lifts in some areas
• Upgrades to electrical and data capacity

CHS theater: After Measure Y passed, the theater planning group came
back with a much more ambitious project then had been included in
the Measure Y design. This required additional fund raising, bumping
the project from one of the first to be done to one of the last. Then
CUSD ran out of money due to cost escalation of construction supplies
mentioned above.

New elementary school at La Puerta: this project was delayed for two
reasons.
1) A large amount of regulation regarding environmental planning
issues (e.g., working out flight paths from all nearby airports to ensure
that the site was safe from potential air disaster; working out a
thorough traffic safety plan with City Engineer for how students would
be dropped off and picked up); and 2) soil contamination was
discovered under the parking lot (probably insecticide or other
chemical storage) from previous agricultural use of the land. This soil
contamination was fixed. These necessary delays pushed CUSD into
the cost escalation period and thus ended the project.