School district will not use or spend all Measure I proceeds at once
By Wendy Sullivan
The Morgan Hill Unified School District has been and continues to be one of the lowest funded districts in all of Santa Clara County. The district’s general operating budget simply does not have the capacity for capital improvements and facilities upgrades. Measure I is a long-term plan to repair, upgrade and modernize our local schools and facilities, so that our students have a safe and excellent learning environment.
Measure I will generate considerable resources toward the district’s current Facilities Master Plan (2020), and at $900 million, the full bond amount constitutes only about two-thirds of the total need ($1.3 billion) based on current costs. Measure I will provide a stable and consistent source of funding for our district during the next 30 years that will enable us to bring our older schools into the 21st century. Most of our schools were built well more than 40 years ago, with many being built in the 1970s, and several in the decade or two before that.
The district’s long-term Facilities Master Plan represents the improvements and upgrades needed to match the educational program vision to existing sites with significant facilities needs. As times change, we expect our high school graduates to have a vastly different skill set than the ones taught 40, 50 or 60 years ago when most of our schools were built. We want our district to remain current as needs change in the future, without having to ask taxpayers for more.
The district will not use or spend all Measure I proceeds at once. Instead, these funds will be used over a long period of time as carefully planned. The first draw will be used for the most critical needs. The costs identified in the FMP are based on a single concept at each site even though several alternatives will be considered when preparing the actual design phase. Projects scheduled into the future will certainly have changed needs and costs with enhanced additions for safety and security. With an estimated 10 percent escalation in construction costs predicted in future years, the longer the district waits the more the cost of needed improvements will increase — and the further behind our schools will be from the needs of students now and into the future.
Opponents of Measure I based their analysis on old data (using figures from the original 2017 Facilities Master Plan, and not the more current costs detailed in the 2019 Amendment), false assumptions and over simplified math.
The true benefit of this measure cannot be calculated by simply dividing the total bond amount by our current enrollment figure. This only suggests a high cost per student for the Measure, which is inaccurate, misleading and false math.
The projects for school facilities will certainly benefit many generations of students beyond students who are enrolled today. Each year, students graduate and new students enroll. The population in the district is also trending to grow. Measure I facilities work will take place over many years, improve educational opportunities and provide a safe, modern learning environment for decades of students well into the future. We must pass Measure I to ensure local students continue to receive a high-quality education, and the skills needed to compete for college and modern careers, in safe, modern classrooms, labs and schools.
For more information, visit: www.mhusd.org/departments/business-services/2020-bond-initiative or www.strongmorganhillschools.com.
Wendy Sullivan serves as the vice-president of the MHUSD board of trustees and the chair of the Friends of Morgan Hill Unified Schools 2020- Yes on Measure I campaign.