The District is proposing a 591 million-dollar bond that will cover renovations to old facilities across all schools called “Measure W,” which will be on the upcoming ballot on November 8. We argue to vote “Yes on Measure W,” because it is in the best interest of students and staff.
If this bond passes with a 55% vote, the M-A buildings that have not been revamped in decades will receive taxpayer funding. The district estimates that the bond will cost $14 per $100,000 in property value. This would translate to taxpayers raising their taxes by $140 a year for a home with a $1 million dollar tax value.
We’ve seen firsthand how old and rundown facilities at M-A impact our experience and learning, like the air conditioning and heating systems, for example, that regularly interfere with our learning environment.
Alan Sarver, a member of the SUHSD Board of Trustees in favor of Measure W, shed light on its potential impacts on M-A. “We would construct a new science building with 30 classrooms, including 10 science labs, in place of West C-wing, West D/E-wing, and H portables; and new stadium bleachers to seat 2,500 attendees.”
He continued, “We would renovate older, aging classrooms, including technology, safety, and seismic retrofit, and restrooms, including gender-neutral bathrooms.” After a long push by M-A’s Genders and Sexualities Alliance for a gender-neutral bathroom, more gender-neutral bathrooms would also provide a safe safe for all gender identities and add to campus inclusivity.
Measure A, a precursor to Measure W, was passed in 2014, and led to the construction of the STEAM building in the S-wing, 21 new classrooms in the G-wing, renovations of athletic facilities, an additional cafeteria, and two new bathrooms. We spend a large portion of our school days in these facilities and find that the STEAM, G, and S-wings are some of the most welcoming and productive work spaces due to their modern construction for collaborative learning.
Ginn continued, “The district’s last bond, Measure A, mainly focused on building capacity to meet the enrollment bubble the district faced at that time. This bond will enable renovation of many of the buildings that did not get updated by the last bond.”
Sarver said, “Currently, a widespread need is for air conditioning to deal with global warming, and the electrical upgrades needed in our 60+ year old buildings to accommodate it.”
M-A is no exception. Many classrooms in wings A through E, do not have air conditioning or heating systems, and are potentially not up to date with current safety standards. According to the primary argument submission form for Measure W, “some of the schools still contain asbestos and lead pipes, while others need to be retrofitted for earthquake safety.”
B-wing teacher Ronald Sanchez agrees, “It gets pretty hot here once we start getting towards the end of the school year, and around the beginning of the school year. A lot of students, especially during my 6th and 5th periods, prefer working outside rather than sitting within the hot box of the classroom.”
However, inflation is a distinctive downside to bonds. According to David Kotok, chief investment officer at Cumberland Advisors, “This is one of those rare years when both bonds and stocks work against the investor.”
Bonds drop in value when interest rates rise and since inflation has skyrocketed recently, instead of cutting interest rates, the Federal Reserve is raising interest rates in efforts to slow the economy. So, at the moment, bonds aren’t the best form of financial investment, but still they remain dependable.
Some argue that Measure W prioritizes more building investment over teachers and students, citing that “48% of students are not meeting California state math standards.” Thus, the opposition would rather redirect the focus of the District’s spending to academic programs promoting the welfare of students over building structures.
However in some cases, the actual facilities are the barrier to educational success. Have you ever tried learning math in a hundred degree heat?
According to a Penn State study, research shows that facilities actually play a large role in improved academic success. Older classrooms in the A-E wings are not conducive to modern learning techniques due to space constraints. The study states, “This is particularly true with the respect to reconfiguring seating arrangements to facilitate various modes of teaching and learning and the use of technology in the classroom as a mode of teaching and learning.”
As for the monetary impact, the opposition argues that Measure W would increase taxes for prospective and recent homeowners. Due to higher taxation, there will also be an increase in rent prices. The opposition argues, “Working families are struggling to pay for gas and groceries and living in a period of high inflation and unprecedented uncertainty. This is not the time to be saddling us with this additional, significant tax burden that would last for decades.”
However, supporters argue that these additional funds are needed because costs are rising. Sarver says, “The amount of funding sought with each bond measure follows inflation over the time since the last bond. While Measure W is approximately double the total value of Measure A in 2014, construction costs have roughly doubled over that time, so it is essentially an equivalent funding effort.”
We agree with board trustee member Chris Thomsen’s sentiment, “While the bond budget is a large number, it is not so large when you consider the number of students in the District and the extent of Sequoia facilities.”
Board Trustee member Shawneece Stevenson said, “You cannot put a price on providing our students with the necessary tools to be successful in our schools, and eventually, successful in life. Our community has always understood the value of providing our students with access to modern and upgraded facilities. It has been this consistent support from our community that has made it possible for our students to go from our classrooms straight into some of the best universities in the nation.”