The Fountain Valley School District's Board of Trustees voted 4-1 Thurday night to put a $23.5 million technology bond issue on the November ballot.
"I see this bond as an opportunity to bring something extra to the people of Fountain Valley," said board member Christine Allcorn, who said that while funding has gone down consistently over her tenure on the board, requirements and expectations have increased. "I want to live in a community that has a school district that attracts people."
If passed, the bond would increase local property taxes by a maximum of $14.50 per $100,000 of assessed property value. Because there's already an election on for November, putting the issue on the ballot will cost the district only about $8,000, as opposed to a cost of a special election, which would cost somewhere between $52,000 and $65,000.
Sandra Crandall, the lone board member to vote against putting the issue on the ballot, said she favored a "pay-as-you-go" model for upgrading the district's technology, saying that four of the district's schools are already well on the way to meeting the goals set forth the in district's technology plan. Plans are already in place to form a committee to address the district's technology concerns, something Crandall said could still be done without the bond issue.
"Fountain Valley is one of four school districts that have never floated a bond," she said. "To me, that's a badge of honor."
Crandall also cited the outstanding bonds still being paid by local taxpayers, as well as the host of other tax measures already on the November ballot and others that are still in the works, including a potential $700 million bond issue being considered by the Coast Community College system. Board President Ian Collins conceded that people could end up feeling overtaxed but said he was still willing to put the issue on the ballot and let the voters decide.
"I too see a problem with the taxation," Collins said. "But how far do we allow our kids to fall behind? I have to embrace change and accept change. School funding in California is a national disgrace. I just don't want to deny the kids that opportunity."
The board also approved the district's budget for the 2012-13 school year, which, Assistant Superintendent for Business Steve McMahon said, is based on the state's assumption that Gov. Jerry Brown's proposed tax initiative will pass in November, and which includes five furlough days to account for a funding gap of $2.5 million.
Should the tax measure fail, that number could go up by as many as 15 days, and the district would be facing an additional reduction in funding of $457 per student. Overall, the district has been able to operate with a balanced budget, but, McMahon said, that's largely because it's been able to borrow from its reserve fund, $2.3 million more of which will be transferred to the district's general fund in 2012-13.
"We're seeing no good news on the horizon," he said. "Regardless of whether the tax measure passes, we're looking at a tough road ahead."