NUSD Race: Future Bond Measures

THE NATOMAS BUZZ | @natomasbuzz

THE NATOMAS BUZZ invited the 10 candidates running for Natomas Unified school board to participate in a series of articles wherein they answer questions submitted by readers.

Today’s question was sent to us by reader Steve Korvink who asked, “The Natomas Unified School District has mentioned they are interested in asking voters to approve a facilities bond within the next few years – would you support a facilities bond, and how would you direct District leadership to prioritize which schools – including those that may serve traditional and/or charter students – receive access to these funds?”

Here are the answers submitted by the deadline, in the order they were received:


An analysis of enrollment projections would be necessary to understand the need for modernization and additional facilities. I’d ask for an analysis of the current debt load necessary to determine the district’s ability to bond. If the district can responsibly take on more debt, and the analysis suggests the need for additional facilities, I would be open to supporting such a move. Given the district’s already substantial property tax burden, I would only support a bond measure if it were thoroughly justified and appropriately limited. If the district pursues a 55% vote bond, it will be required to provide available facilities to charter schools – beyond that charter schools are responsible to secure financing for their own facilities. I fully support efforts by the legislature to promote facilities funding opportunities for charter schools.


School districts periodically place bond measures on the ballot to fund capital projects such as building and renovating schools, as well as technology for certain improvement projects. While I do support the concept of bonds, there is one thing I have promised voters throughout this campaign and that is I will make informed decisions. Therefore, I can’t say for certain I will support a future bond because there are many of questions that must be addressed first. What are our facilities needs? How much will the project(s) cost? Are we going to use Prop 39 rules? Are matching funds available? Is the project list in line with our facilities master plan? How will the improvements benefit students and instructional programs? If a bond measure is presented to me I will make an informed decision and also engage the community in the process in meaningful ways.


I would be in favor of a facilities bond. First we would have to determine what the financial liability would be. If it makes sense and does not harm the future economics of the district, then we can look into which schools or areas would benefit the most. I’m not calling for more studies or hiring more consultants we need to go to the people and find out which groups would benefit from it. There is no reason that public and charter schools cannot benefit from such a bond. We just need to make sure that it makes sense and does not harm the foundation that we are trying to build.


One of my priorities as an NUSD Trustee will be to ensure that all 12,000 students in our district are housed in permanent, safe, and modern facilities. Many North Natomas schools are at or near capacity. Since the District’s existing bonds are on the verge of being completely expended, within the next 4 years, NUSD will need to ask the voters to approve a new facilities bond. Priorities for this bond would include: replacing high energy consuming and aging portable classrooms at Jefferson, Natomas High, and NP3; constructing a new elementary school north of H. Allen Hight; finishing the conversion of Bannon Creek to a K-8 campus; housing Westlake Charter’s K-8 and Natomas Charter’s Star Academy students; building an elementary school in the Natomas Crossing neighborhood (whose students attend over-crowded Natomas Park Elementary); and building a career technical school on district-owned property in the northeast corner of Natomas.


I strongly support the idea, and with that, a different approach on information sharing with parents and community members, since revenues raised comes by way of a citizen vote. The public must be involved at all stages; from concept to completion of all projects, and plans should be community driven. Without this approach, the district leaves itself open to charges of pursuing an agenda which may not include all interested Natomas residents. For now, the Citizens’ Bond Oversight Committee reviews and reports on expenditure of bond money for school construction. It needs to be far more proactive than it currently is in its community outreach, so residents can participate in strategic planning as well as be influential in any concrete decisions that are rendered concerning district facilities. If we embrace these changes, then our priorities will truly be shared ones, because we will have included everyone from the beginning.


Before adding more debt to Natomas taxpayers, we need a higher level of transparency and accountability in NUSD. We cannot continue asking for more funds when we do not know how past measures have worked and benefited our community. As a trustee, I will request an independent review of Measures M and D for example. What NUSD needs first is to establish a long term-vision and financial priorities. Facilities is a crucial area and so are having the right educational programs, having enough staff to serve our students, etc. There is no shortage of things we need to do and pay for all schools, including traditional and charter schools. Part of this process must involve questioning district spending, evaluating programs and services, and getting input from students and parents. I will support another facilities bond only after we’ve exhausted all options and have a compelling and demonstrated need for it.

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