Sonoma County voters weigh school bond measures, parcel tax
Three of the five public school bond measures totaling $84 million were poised for approval with 100% of Sonoma County precincts reporting by Wednesday morning. The remaining two bonds and a school parcel tax expected to raise $1.8 million annually were too close to call.
All five bonds — intended to improve the infrastructure of local schools in Sebastopol, Healdsburg, Santa Rosa and Geyserville — required approval by 55% of voters.
Residents in the Sebastopol Union School District appeared to be on their way to approving a $17.5 million bond, with Measure E winning almost 62% of the vote with all 16 precincts reporting by midnight. The funds would allow the district to increase energy efficiency by installing solar panels, in addition to other infrastructure projects. The district has students in kindergarten through eighth grade at four schools.
And Measure F, a $7.5 million bond meant to upgrade buildings in the West Side Union School District, barely crossed the threshold with over 57% of the vote in early mail-in ballots and seven of seven precincts reporting by Wednesday morning. The district includes about 180 students in kindergarten through sixth grade at West Side School outside Healdsburg.
The most expensive bond on the ballot, Measure C, was right at the 55% threshold, with 34 of 34 precincts reporting by Wednesday morning. It asked Bellevue Union School District voters to approve a $28 million bond that would replace deteriorating plumbing systems and improve student access to technology. The district serves about 1,600 students at three schools, making it one of the largest elementary districts in Sonoma County.
“They’re our neighborhood kids; it’s the right thing to do,” said Laurie Caruso, who voted for the measure at the Bellevue Elementary School polling location Tuesday.
Measure D passed the 55% threshold with 58% of the vote and six of six precincts reporting by Wednesday morning. It asked Roseland School District voters to approve a $9.4 million bond that would go toward modernizing outdated classrooms and restrooms. The district serves students in kindergarten through 12th grade at six Santa Rosa schools.
Another tight vote was for Measure A, which asked Geyserville Unified School District voters to approve a $22 million bond intended to fund repairs and modernize outdated classrooms. Just over 55% of the vote was in favor of the measure, with seven of seven precincts counted by Wednesday morning. The district has about 230 students from kindergarten to 12th grade at three schools.
Measure B asked West Sonoma County Union High School District voters to support a $79 parcel tax over the course of eight years. The measure, which needed a two-thirds majority to pass, received just over 65% of the vote with 84 of 84 precincts reporting by Wednesday morning. If passed, the funds would be used to improve career technical education and arts programs and support raises for teachers and staff. The district includes two schools in Sebastopol and one in Forestville.
Jeanne Fernandes, president of the school board, said Tuesday night that she was “cautiously optimistic” of the results.
“I’m crossing my fingers and just hoping upon hope that the voters got our message and realize just how important this is for our schools,” she said.
You can reach Staff Writer Chantelle Lee at 707-521-5337 or email@example.com. On Twitter @ChantelleHLee.