Almanac

Schools - February 26, 2014

Sequoia high school district: Task force proposes $265M bond measure

by Dave Boyce

A task force of volunteers working for the Sequoia Union High School District has settled on recommending a $265 million bond measure — up 18 percent from the initial $225 million estimate in January — to provide capital funds for new construction on campuses to accommodate a coming surge in enrollment.

The district board meets Wednesday, Feb. 26, to discuss the recommendation and decide which election is best for a bond measure: June or November. The meeting begins at 5:30 p.m. in the district office at 480 James Ave. in Redwood City.

A $265 million measure would raise taxes by about $16 per $100,000 of a property's assessed value. With interest payments included, the cost to the taxpayer typically doubles.

Studies show wide support for a measure of up to $300 million among 800 likely voters, but also show that a campaign will be necessary. But how long a campaign?

A short campaign for a June election would make funds available to meet enrollment in 2016-17, about when the surge will start, but a short campaign also makes big demands on volunteers. They must quickly devise a strategy, arrange endorsements, set up and staff phone banks, and advertise. Professional help is available, but at a cost. Will donors step forward in time, in sufficient numbers, and with sufficient contributions?

A November election gives ample time for all this, but voter turnout will be higher — not usually desirable when asking for a tax increase — and competing finance measures may complicate things.

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