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Santa Rosa school board weighs bond measure or tax hike

Santa Rosa City Schools is considering pursuing a bond measure or parcel tax to offset deep cuts from Sacramento in recent years.

The school board on Wednesday night discussed what remains in outstanding principal from voter-supported bonds dating back to 1991 and whether local voters would support another round of either taxes or bond repayments.

Board President Bill Carle said he would consider both a bond measure to shore up facilities that have been neglected during cuts to maintenance budgets, as well as a parcel tax for technology needs.

"Maybe that is political suicide. I don't know the answer, but I don't think so in this community," he said.

Board members expressed support for a poll to gauge voter support for a variety of proposals and expenditures.

Trustee Ron Kristof said the district's technology is in "woeful" shape and that the passage of Proposition 30 by California voters in November is helpful but does not go far enough.

"We have taken large hits for a long time," he said. "As much as I appreciate the public support in the passage of Prop. 30, this in fact only put a floor under us. We have a long way to go to catch up with other states, other countries."

Since 1991, voters in Sonoma County's largest school district have approved $237 million in bonds which have paid for dramatic overhauls and construction on the district's campuses. In 1991, voters approved a $129-million bond measure for middle and high schools, then an additional $12 million for elementary campuses. In 2002, voters approved a $96-million bond measure to support all schools, kindergarten through 12th grade.

The result was new buildings, theaters, cafeteria overhauls and upgrades to athletic fields and stadiums.

Property owners are still paying off the bonds issued to pay for those projects. Within the high school district, they are currently paying $57.90 per $100,000 in assessed value. In the elementary district, the cost is $25.50 per $100,000 in assessed value. The elementary district is approximately one-third the size of the high school district in terms of parcels.


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