Denair trustees to ask voters this fall to approve a $34.3 million bond

Only moments after approving a bare-bones budget for the 2024-25 school year, Denair Unified School District trustees decided Thursday night to ask voters to pass a $34.3 million bond measure that would provide much-needed money to modernize facilities, add classrooms, keep pace with technology and enhance security.

With minimal comment, trustees voted 5-0 to place the bond measure on the Nov. 5 ballot. To pass, 55% of voters must say yes.

A key factor that swayed trustees to go forward with the bond proposal is that – should it pass – it would not add to the property taxes landowners in the district already pay. That’s because the new bond would not take effect until Measure P – approved by voters in 2001 — is paid off in 2028. Like Measure P, the new bond would collect $100 for each $100,000 in assessed property value.

District officials stressed that the new bond would not be a new tax, but rather just an extension of the same tax community members have been paying for more than two decades.

In a survey taken in April, nearly 70% of potential voters in the district said they would support a school bond as long as it doesn’t raise current property tax rates.

Trustees have been discussing facilities needs and how to pay for them for more than a year. Some of Denair’s classrooms and other buildings are 50 to 70 years old. Their age – coupled with the expected growth in enrollment – makes it important that district leaders plan now for the future. The bond would give the district an identified funding stream to provide a match for school construction money from the state.

The money would be used to replace aging and leaking roofs; repair and upgrade classroom heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems; upgrade classrooms to support instruction in science, technology, engineering, and math; and improve school safety and security through security cameras, gates, fencing and security systems at all schools.

The bond proposal requires that a citizens’ oversight committee be formed to evaluate how the money is spent.

Earlier in the meeting, trustees approved a conservative $20.8 million budget for the next school year.  The plan anticipates spending about $800,000 less than the year before. For the first time since the COVID pandemic, the proposed budget contains no special one-time funds from the state or federal governments. That money will all have been spent by the end of the current fiscal year.

In other action Thursday, trustees:

  • Approved a new three-year Local Control and Accountability Plan (LCAP), which has three distinct goals, all with multiple actions to implement. The first goal is that all Denair students will demonstrate skills that contribute to post-secondary success in the areas of technology, academics, social-emotional wellbeing, and life skills. The second goal says that by the end of the 2026-27 school year, an additional 20% of students will demonstrate, through local and state measures, authentic literacy (reading, writing and speaking) in all content areas, with an emphasis on math literacy (numeracy). The final goal says that 100% of Denair schools will be safe and positive school campuses, where all students can be successful.
  • Heard a report from Superintendent Terry Metzger on the district’s local indicators for the CA School Dashboard. Local indicators are reported annually, at the same time the LCAP is approved, and cover topics such as the condition of school facilities, implementation of standards, school climate and parental engagement. The district met standards for all local indicators.
  • Approved an overnight field trip July 31 to Aug. 2 for the Denair FFA Officer Team Leadership Retreat. Students and staff will spend two nights and three days planning and organizing the 2024-25 FFA Program of Activities. 
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