Mt. Diablo Unified School District bond proposition, Measure C (June 2010)

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A Mt. Diablo Unified School District bond proposition, Measure C ballot question was on the June 8, 2010 ballot for voters in the Mt. Diablo Unified School District in Contra Costa County, where it was approved.[1]

Measure C authorized a bond of $348 million.

Voters in the district rejected Measure D in May 2009. Measure D, if passed, would have imposed a $99 parcel tax on district residents.

Sherry Whitmarsh, who, at the time of this measure, was serving as an elected trustee of the Mt. Diablo Unified School District, believed that voters in the district were more likely to approve a bond than a parcel tax: "Bond measures in this district tend to get more community support, because it's something they can feel and see and put their arms around," she said.[1]

After the Mt. Diablo School District Board voted to put Measure C on the ballot, about $202 million of the potential bond money was earmarked for 817 projects at 53 sites in the school district.[2]

About $68 million was purposed for the largest project, which was to install 51 solar structures. Some school board members believed that this would result in lower utility costs. The district had a $3.5 million utility bill at the time.

To pass, at least 55% of those voting in the election had to vote "yes."

Election results

Measure C
Approveda Yes 32,152 60.88%
These final, certified, results are from the Contra Costa County elections office.


After the June 8 vote, it was learned that when the school board voted to put Measure C on the ballot, they did not know the specific projects it would fund. School principals were not asked for lists of project priorities until March 16, a week after the school board voted to put Measure C on the ballot, and the list of improvements was not finalized until April, past the time that the information could be included in the official voter pamphlet about Measure C.[3]


Daniel Borenstein, a staff columnist for the Contra Costa Times, wrote in early May, "Mt. Diablo school officials never provided voters key information that would reveal the tremendous cost of the district's bond proposal on the June ballot."[4]

Borenstein's specific points were:

  • Because payments on the proposed $348 million bond are set up to be stretched out over 40 years, with most of the payments loaded into the back end of the 40 year period, property owners in the district would eventually pay $1.87 billion in taxes for the $348 million loan, or approximately 5 times the amount of the loan.
  • The district's school superintendent visited the Contra Costa Times, seeking to have the paper editorially endorse Measure C, and when asked at that time what the total cost of repaying Measure C would be, was unable to answer or, as Borenstein wrote, "He had no idea."[4]
  • "It's like the credit card company that tries to lure you in with the minimum monthly payment and neglects to mention that, at that pace, it will take you a lifetime to pay off the balance. Or the mortgage lender who offers low interest rates for the first few years to get you into a house and then clobbers you later with higher payments."[4]
  • The way the Measure C repayment is restructured will make it very difficult to get future bonds passed because when it is time for more construction down the road, taxpayers will be feeling the bite of Measure C much more than they will be at beginning, since it is structured to have lower payments initially, leading to higher payments later.[4]

Kris Hunt of the Contra Costa Taxpayers Association said that it is fiscally irresponsible to generate money for annual operating costs by incurring long-term debt: "That's like buying a sandwich today and then paying it off over 50 years."[2]

Text of measure

The question on the ballot:

MEASURE C: To support quality education and safety for local students, and reduce impacts of State budget cuts by improving science, career and technical education facilities; upgrading classroom instructional technology; repairing leaky roofs; improving safety; maximizing energy efficiency including adding solar panels and modern air conditioning; and repairing, replacing, equipping or modernizing other school facilities; shall Mt. Diablo Unified School District issue $348,000,000 of bonds at legal interest rates, with independent citizen oversight, audits, and no money for administrator salaries?[5]

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