Scotts Valley School District Bond Issue, Measure A (June 2014)
Measure A authorized the district to borrow $35 million in order to fund the replacement of the district's 70-year-old middle school. The bond measure directed $33 million towards the construction of a new Scotts Valley Middle School, leaving two million dollars for earthquake safety repairs at Vine Hill Elementary School and Brook Knoll Elementary School. Measure A was designed to require district residents to pay off the bonds over a maximum of 30 years through a property tax of approximately $57 per $100,000 of assessed home value.
Voters narrowly defeated two district bond measures in 2002 and 2008 for $44 million and $55 million respectively. District voters, however, approved a parcel tax of $48 per parcel per year in 2012.
School officials believed that the last two bond measures failed because they were too wide in scope and were not designed to meet specific, notable district requirements. They predicted that Measure A would pass because it was earmarked for specific and dire projects. District board member Michael Shulman said, "When you've got a tax-sensitive community, they're going to be supportive when there's a genuine critical need."
At the beginning of 2014, Scotts Valley School District had about 2,650 students and an annual budget of about $16.5 million.
A 55 percent supermajority vote was required for the approval of Measure A.
- Election results from Santa Cruz County Elections Office
Text of measure
The question on the ballot:
To replace the 70-year old Middle School with a new school, with up-to-date computer/learning technology, science labs, code-compliant/energy-efficient electrical, plumbing, heating/cooling systems; upgrade, construct, acquire classrooms, schools, facilities, sites/equipment that meet accessibility requirements; make needed seismic repairs at elementary schools, and qualify for State matching funds, shall Scotts Valley Unified School District issue $35,000,000 in bonds, at legal rates, with independent oversight, no funds for administrators, all funds staying local?
The following impartial analysis of Measure A was prepared by the office of the county counsel:
If approved by at least fifty-five percent of those voting on the measure, this measure will authorize the Scotts Valley Unified School District (the “District”) to issue bonds in an aggregate principal amount not exceeding $35,000,000. The bonds would constitute an indebtedness of the District.
The money raised through the sale of the bonds may only be used by the District for the purposes stated in the full text ballot proposition and ballot question and not for any other purpose, such as teacher or administrator salaries or other operating expenses. To ensure that the bond monies are expended for the approved purposes, the Board of Trustees of the District will cause annual, independent performance and financial audits to be conducted, and it also will cause the appointment of a citizens’ oversight committee.
The interest paid on the bonds and their terms to maturity will be limited by State law.
Payment of interest and principal relating to the bonds would be financed by a tax levied on real property within the District. The Tax Rate Statement for Measure A which is printed in this ballot pamphlet provides information about that tax.
This measure was placed on the ballot by the District’s Board of Trustees.
A “yes” vote on Measure A is a vote to authorize the bonds to be issued and financed by ad valorem taxes levied on real property in the School District.
A “no” vote on Measure A is a vote against issuing the proposed bonds.
Approval of Measure A does not guarantee that the proposed project or projects in the Scotts Valley Unified School District that are the subject of bonds under Measure A will be funded beyond the local revenues generated by Measure A. The school district's proposal for the project or projects may assume the receipt of matching state funds, which could be subject to appropriation by the Legislature or approval of a statewide bond measure.
—By Jane M. Scott, Assistant County Counsel
The following fiscal analysis and tax statement was provided by district officials for Measure A:
An election will be held in the Scotts Valley Unified School District (the“District”) on June 3, 2014, to authorize the sale of up to $35,000,000 in bonds of the District to finance school facilities as described in the measure. If such bonds are authorized and sold, principal and interest on the bonds will be payable only from the proceeds of tax levies made upon the taxable property in the District. The following information is provided in compliance with Sections 9400-9404 of the Elections Code of the State of California. Such information is based upon the best estimates and projections presently available from official sources, upon experience within the District, and other demonstrable factors. Based upon the foregoing and projections of the District’s assessed valuation, the following information is provided:
1. The best estimate of the tax rate which would be required to be levied to fund this bond issue during the first fiscal year after the sale of the first series of bonds, based on a projection of assessed valuations available at the time of filing of this statement, is $0.057 per $100 of assessed valuation (or $57.00 per $100,000 of assessed value) for fiscal year 2014-15.
2. The best estimate of the tax rate which would be required to be levied to fund this bond issue during the first fiscal year after the sale of the last series of bonds, based on a projection of assessed valuations available at the time of filing of this statement, is $0.057 per $100 of assessed valuation (or $57.00 per $100,000 of assessed value) for fiscal year 2016-17.
3. The best estimate of the highest tax rate which would be required to be levied to fund this bond issue, based on a projection of assessed valuations available at the time of filing of this statement, is $0.057 per $100 of assessed valuation (or $57.00 per $100,000 of assessed value), for fiscal year 2017-18.
Voters should note the estimated tax rate is based on the ASSESSED VALUE of taxable property on the County’s official tax rolls, not on the property’s market value. In addition, taxpayers eligible for a property tax exemption, such as the homeowner’s exemption, will be taxed at a lower effective tax rate than described above. Property owners should consult their own property tax bills and tax advisors to determine their property’s assessed value and any applicable tax exemptions.
The attention of all voters is directed to the fact that the foregoing information is based upon projections and estimates only, which are not binding upon the District. The actual tax rates and the years in which they will apply may vary from those presently estimated, due to variations from these estimates in the timing of bond sales, the amount of bonds sold and market interest rates at the time of each sale, and actual assessed valuations over the term of repayment of the bonds. The date of sale and the amount of bonds sold at any given time will be determined by the District based on the need for project funds and other factors. The actual interest rates at which the bonds will be sold will depend on the bond market at the time of sale. Actual future assessed valuations will depend upon the amount and value of taxable property within the District as determined by the County Assessor in the annual assessment and the equalization process.
—Penny Weaver, superintendent of Scotts Valley Unified School District
The following individuals signed the official arguments in favor of Measure A:
- Darby McFall, senior class president of SVMS class of 2010
- Molly McQuestion, Teachers Association President
- Derek Timm, SVEF President
- Patti Malone, Scotts Valley business owner and resident
- Randy Klein of the Scotts Valley Tutoring Club
Arguments in favor
The following official arguments were submitted in favor of Measure A:
The need to replace Scotts Valley Middle School is clear to anyone who is familiar with this historic facility. Our highly successful, nationally-recognized middle school program is being run in an obsolete facility that dates to the 1940s. Everything about it – the roofs, walls, windows, heating, plumbing, electrical, walkways, courtyards, and playfields – is crumbling. Maintaining it is a serious drain on funds better used to educate our kids.
Good schools, and good school buildings, create a sense of community and have a direct positive impact on home values. The high quality education in all of our schools is reflected in our home values, making our community more desirable. Our student achievement is among the highest in California. SVMS is over 70 years old. Repairs are no longer practical or cost effective—it needs to be replaced.
The only way to move this project forward is with local funding. The District is applying for state matching funds; if they become available our local tax burden will be reduced.
Measure A is focused on the middle school at its present location. The District is committed to hiring an outstanding team of professionals to oversee the project. Every dollar from Measure A stays in our community with all funds devoted to construction and none for administrator salaries. Citizen oversight and annual audits are required.
Please join parents, teachers, community leaders, local business owners and retirees in voting YES on Measure A to continue strong student achievement and to stop wasting much needed resources on our cherished but worn-out middle school. Our kids need schools that provide a safe, effective learning environment.
The responsibility and benefits are shared by all. Please vote YES for Measure A.
—Darby McFall, Molly McQuestion, Derek Timm, Patti Malone and Randy Klein
The following argument in opposition to Measure A was submitted to Ballotpedia by a district resident and property owner who opposed Measure A:
I currently pay over $1000/year of school taxes on my property tax bill. Measure A could mean I would pay an additional $270.75 or more depending on information in the previous article by Penny Weaver, superintendent of Scotts Valley Unified School District. If this passes, I will be paying a minimum of $1270.75/year just in school taxes. I'm assuming that as assessed property value rises, so will this new school tax (as it is calculated $57/$100,000 of value per year. This school tax is getting out of hand. Every time Scotts Valley needs something for the schools, the cost gets put on the backs of the property owners. In a one block area of Scotts Valley there are 60 homes. 47 are full time rentals, 13 are owner occupied and 8 of those don't have any school age kids. I think a measure that is going to financially affect property owners, should only be voted on by property owners, not renters that come to Scotts Valley to take advantage of our good school ratings. Scotts Valley needs to find another way to pay for this.
—Measure A opponent
According to Penny Weaver, superintendent of the district, polling of 250 voters conducted in January of 2014 showed strong support in the community for Measure A.
- Local school bonds on the ballot
- Santa Cruz County, California ballot measures
- June 3, 2014 ballot measures in California
- Santa Cruz Sentinel, "Voters will decide on bond to replace Scotts Valley Middle School," February 27, 2014, archived April 17, 2014
- Santa Cruz Sentinel, "Scotts Valley Unified School Board moves forward with bond measure," January 15, 2014
- Santa Cruz County elections department, Measure A voter pamphlet information, archived April 15, 2014
- Note: This text is quoted verbatim from the original source. Any inconsistencies are attributed to the original source.
- Ballotpedia staff writer Josh Altic, "Email correspondence with Measure A opponent," May 28, 2014