CHINO VALLEY - Facing limited funding from the state and rising costs, the Chino Valley Unified School District has formed a committee to explore putting a 10-year, $10 million bond measure on the November ballot.
"Right now we are at the exploratory phase," Howard said. "The reality we're facing is that over the last four or five years, the state legislature has cut public education by 20 percent. For us, that means we have lost over $4 million that we will never recover."
Howard said one of the major expenses the district faces is transportation.
"Right out of the gate, we need five buses," he said. "Our current fleet is costing us more to maintain that it would be to provide newer, safer transportation. These buses are about $150,000 each."
Howard recently met with local legislators Rep. Karen Fann, Sen. Steve Peirce, and House Speaker Andy Tobin, and said all three recognize the needs of the district.
"These three are facing the same battle at the legislative level, but I firmly believe they understand the issue we're facing and support what we need to do," said Howard.
According to John Scholl, Support Services Director for the CVUSD, the district's last bond proposal was approved in the late 1990s and is expiring this year.
Scholl said it paid for construction of Territorial Elementary School and several projects at the high school, including the science and music buildings, the track and the football stadium. Scholl added that he's confident if voters approve a new bond to replace the expiring one, the district will be able to tackle some of its major financial problems without hurting the taxpayers too much.
"The bottom line for the taxpayers is that if a bond is approved by the voters, the overall tax base will be the same as now or even a little less," said Scholl.
Under the current bond, the tax rate is about $73 per year on a $100,000 home. The new bond proposal would be closer to $40 for the same $100,000 home.
Scholl said there are several ways districts can raise money, but a bond measure gives the taxpayers the most control over spending.
"We could do a M & O (maintenance and operation) override, we could do a capital override," said Scholl. " But the big difference is that in a bond, we have to lay out exactly what we are going to spend the money for. If we decide to go for the bond, it really gives the taxpayer control over where the money is spent. We have to itemize exactly how the money is spent."
Howard said the issue isn't as much about spending as it is about funding.
"The reality we face is that we have some major expenses and we don't have the funding," said Howard. "What we want to do is live within our resources. We have already started that process by addressing some staffing issues and some of our square footage issues. We're looking for ways to reduce our spending and live within our means because we want to be good stewards. But without the state funding and without the bond, we wont be able to maintain our buildings and our buses aren't going to run."
If the measure gets support from the committee, Howard said he hopes to present the measure to the CVUSD board for approval during the June board meeting.
If approved by the board, the process will then move forward to place the measure on the November ballot.