The Board of Trustees began review, inquiry, and discussions into the current state of all school facilities in the Washington Unified School District. A Facilities Master Plan was created representing the voices of parents, staff, and community for the future facilities of the District.
The Facilities Master Plan was received by the Board of Education in December 2019. Each school site and district campus was reviewed and discussed at Board of Education meetings in January - March 2020. The Facilities Master Plan is representative of modernization and construction for the next 10 years with the focus of ensuring all school facilities are equitably addressed across the District.
Attached for the Board's discussion is a drafted resolution describing the language for ordering a school bond election, establishing specifications of the election order, and requesting consolidation with other elections occurring on November 3, 2020.
The timeline for a November 2020 General Obligation Bond Measure in Yolo County is as follows:
July 9, 2020 - Board of Education Meeting for decision and action on Resolution calling election.
July 9 - 21, 2020 - Resolution delivered to Yolo County calling for election.
August 4, 2020 - Special Meeting of the Yolo County Board of Supervisors for WUSD resolution.
August 7, 2020 - Statutory deadline for filing adopted resolution and tax rate statement with Yolo County.
August 7, 2020 - Deadline for submitting Argument in Favor
August 18, 2020 - Deadline for submitting Rebuttal
How are Washington Unified School District schools doing?
Here in Washington Unified School District (WUSD), we are proud of the great strides our students, teachers and staff have made in the past few years.
Graduation rates and test scores have been climbing; drop-out rates and safety incidents have been falling. Our schools are vibrant places where students thrive and gain the skills to succeed. Parents, teachers and students have much to be excited about for the future.
What challenges are facing our schools?
While WUSD has made significant changes over the last few years, we now face a major challenge to provide funding for our aging school facilities.
Some of our schools are more than 70 years old and need to be modernized to provide up-to- date classroom technology and meet current health and safety codes. More funding is needed because all students throughout the district deserve the same safe, modern schools and educational opportunities regardless of which school they attend.
Schools today need to have updated classrooms and instructional technology to better prepare students for college or the workforce. Repairing and upgrading our schools will help retain and attract quality teachers because classrooms will be up-to-date, have the resources and tools needed, and schools will be clean and safe.
Unfortunately, the State will not currently fund these improvements.
How is the District planning to address these issues?
In order to provide safe and updated learning environments to all students, the WUSD Board of Education is considering placing a $150 million school facilities improvement bond measure on the November 2020 ballot. This measure would help WUSD provide modern classrooms, labs, and facilities to all local students.
Specifically, how would funds from a local school improvement bond measure be used?
If approved by 55% of local voters, the measure would:
Upgrade classrooms, labs and internet access for 21st century hands-on instruction in science, technology, engineering, arts and math
Ensure all schools meet the same academic, safety and disabled accessibility standards as newer schools
Improve classroom technology and school safety to help retain and attract quality teachers
Repair and upgrade deteriorating roofs, plumbing, and electrical where needed
How do I know funds from a measure would be used responsibly?
A potential school bond would include strong fiscal safeguards:
All funds spent locally to support local schools and cannot be taken away by the State
No funds could be used for administrator salaries or pensions
Independent citizens’ oversight and annual audits of all spending
Qualify WUSD for state matching funds that would otherwise go to other school districts
How much would this bond measure cost?
A measure would cost property owners no more than $60 per $100,000 of assessed (not market) value per year, protected by Prop 13, or approximately $165 per year for the typical homeowner. All funds generated by this measure would stay local to improve WUSD schools.
A local school bond is an action the community can take to help strengthen our economic status as well as improve school facilities for WUSD students.
Is this the right economic time for a bond measure?
While we hope and expect the COVID-19 pandemic to subside by summer, we can anticipate the likelihood of a potential recession at both national and county levels, resulting in state- mandated cuts to the District’s budget. We’ve seen in the past that when tough times hit, our local schools suffer worse budget cuts than schools in wealthier areas. A local school bond is one way to help protect our schools.
Also, if there is a recession, the bond market will be favorable and construction costs will be lower, benefitting the District and local taxpayers, and making our local dollars go farther.
How can a local school improvement bond measure help our community?
Local school bonds serve as local job creators. They sustain local industry, employ local workers, and bring economic activity to our area which can help local restaurants and shops that have been badly impacted by COVID-19 public health and safety measures.
Is there any other way to update our schools?
The District has very few options when it comes to making the necessary renovations and upgrades our local schools need. The State has been an unreliable partner in funding and provides very limited funding for facilities improvements, so we can’t rely on them to complete the repairs and upgrades our schools need.
A school improvement bond measure would provide the local control necessary to complete prioritized projects to provide the repairs and upgrades that our schools need. In addition, if approved, a measure would help our schools qualify for millions in State matching funds — funds that would otherwise go to other communities.
Has our community supported local funding for school improvements before?
Yes. In 2014, WUSD voters approved Measure V, a local bond measure to address the most urgent facilities needs facing WUSD schools. Measure V funds were used for school construction, modernization, portable classroom replacement, technology upgrades, and heating and air conditioning installation.