Another school bond to go before voters

By Craig Shultz @PE_CraigShultz on Twitter


Voters living within the Hemet Unified School District boundaries will be asked in November to approve a $150 million bond measure to upgrade facilities.


The bond won’t add additional charges to their tax bill, Superintendent Christi Barrett said. Instead, it will extend payments property owners already are paying from previous measures.


“Others will be falling off the tax bill, and this will push in,” she said. 


Though recognizing that additional taxes can be a burden, Barrett said the money is necessary to improve the learning environment.


The money is earmarked to improve facilities, especially some of the district’s older campuses. There are no plans to build a new school.


“We’ve given ourselves the option of new building, but right now our priority is about taking care of our current facilities,” Barrett said.


Landowners are taxed based on the assessed value of their property. The proposed bond would not exceed $60 per $100,000 of value.


It will be the fourth bond related measure put before voters in 16 years.


Voters approved a $60 million measure in 2002, a $149 million bond in 2006 and a $49 million bond in 2012 to reauthorize the 2006 bonds.


Much of that money went to makeovers of Hemet High and Acacia Middle schools and the destruction and re construction of Hemet Elementary School.


Although the seven member school board voted unanimously to put the measure to vote, trustee Rob Davis expressed some apprehension.


“I’m troubled by any tax,” he said. “This kind of irks me.”


Davis wondered why more money that is sent to Sacramento does not make it back to local districts.


“While I like the current financing scheme over the former financing scheme, it’s still a scheme,” he said.


Davis said he approved putting the measure on the ballot because the district has no other options to get the money for the improvements needed.


Although matching money from the state is no guarantee, it is not possible to receive it without the bond money, he said.


The bond will need a 55 percent approval from voters to pass.


Hemet Unified is the largest school district geographically in Riverside County, covering 650 square miles. With Hemet at the center, the district includes the San Jacinto Mountains, with campuses in Idyllwild and Anza, plus Sage, Aguanga, Winchester and part of French Valley.


The 2018-19 school year will begin Aug. 13, with 22,000 students at 28schools and 4,050 employees.


The district considered asking voters to pass a bond in 2016 but backed off in part because the city of Hemet had a sales tax increase on the ballot and Mt. San Jacinto College also had a bond measure. Both were approved.


Voters in November also will select four trustees. The terms of Vic Scavarda, Megan Haley, Ross Valenzuela and Davis are expiring. All have pulled papers to seek re-election. Source: The Press Enterprise, Aug. 2, 2018
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