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Berkeley Unified School District bond proposition, Measure I (November 2010)

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A Berkeley Unified School District bond proposition, Measure I ballot question was on the November 2, 2010 ballot for voters in the Berkeley Unified School District in Alameda County, where it was approved.

Measure I allowed the school district to borrow $210 million over 47 years. The cost of repayment to district taxpayers was estimated to be about $611 million.[1]

The $210 million was earmarked for:

  • New classrooms, seismic upgrades, and new science labs at Berkeley High School.
  • New playgrounds, restrooms, cafeterias, and heating and fire safety systems in the school district.[1]

The Berkeley Unified School District had two other outstanding bonds when Measure I was approved. The combined tax rate for the old and new loans was predicted to reach a high of $170 per each $100,000 of assessed home value from 2013 to 2018 before tapering. A homeowner with a two-bedroom house selling for $600,000 would pay $1,020 a year to Berkeley school bonds in 2013-2018.[1]

A 55 percent supermajority vote was needed to approve Measure I.

Election results

Measure I
ResultVotesPercentage
Approveda Yes 31,723 77.16%
No9,39022.84%
These final, certified results are from the Alameda County elections office.

Text of measure

The question on the ballot:

Measure I: To improve school safety and facilities for learning and teaching, shall Berkeley Unified School District issue $210,000,000 in bonds at interest rates within the legal limit, to construct new classrooms for growth, complete seismic upgrades, construct science labs, upgrade computers and education technology, renovate playgrounds, replace restrooms, cafeterias, roofs, heating and fire safety systems, remove hazardous materials, improve energy efficiency, and qualify for State grants, with independent audits and citizen oversight? The State cannot take the funds.[2][3]

Support

  • Karen Hemphill, president of Berkeley Unified's school board, supported Measure I, saying, "What's the alternative? That we pay for construction out of our general fund?"[1]
  • Mark Van Kriekan, vice president of the Parent Teacher Student Association at the high school, supported Measure I and said, "It's a good cause even though people are often uncomfortable with increased taxes."[2]
  • Irma Parker, Berkeley High School Parent Liaison, said, "If you have a kid that comes from a poor neighborhood, it lets them know that there's something better in the world that they can strive for. I understand we're in an economic downturn, but we're going to pay something one way or another - I would rather pay taxes for something that helped children."[2]

Opposition

Viki Tamaradze of "Berkeley Can Do Better" opposed Measure I, saying, "For years we have been funding these bonds and our schools still need improvement."[1]

Priscilla Myrick, a former CPA and a candidate for Berkeley School Board, opposed Measure I. She said:[4]

"If Measure I passes, Berkeley voters will have provided BUSD with almost half a billion in facilities financing ($485 million). If Measure I passes, property owners will be obligated to pay almost a billion dollars—$911 million—in total payments (principal and interest) over the next 50 years through 2060."
"Measure I is a vague and poorly written school construction bond measure and allows the school board total discretion in terms of how the funds are actually spent. No construction project is guaranteed completion. The text of the ballot measure states, “Inclusion of a project on the Bond Project List is not a guarantee that the project will be funded or completed. Listed projects will be completed as needed at a particular school site according to Board-established priorities, and the order in which such projects appear on the Bond Project list is not an indication of priority for funding completion.” There is still no guarantee that Berkeley High students will have enough classroom space in the future."

Marie Bowman, a member of "Berkeleyans Against Soaring Taxes," said, "We paid for the (high school) classrooms to be rebuilt in Measure AA, and they did not build the classrooms...Should we pay for them again?"[2]

See also

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