Tax savings on Shoreline bond measure

04/10/2019

Due in part to Shoreline Unified School District’s recently improved credit rating, taxpayers in the district will save more than $2 million in interest on Measure I, a $19.5 million bond approved by voters last November. 

The district estimates that the cost to taxpayers for each dollar borrowed under the measure will be less than $1.83, an improvement on a previous estimate of $2. Taxes for the bond, which will commence in the 2019-2020 fiscal year and end in 2044-2045, will raise around $1.4 million
annually. 

Revenues from the measure, which passed with nearly 67 percent of the vote, must be used to fund, repair and improve classrooms and facilities at Shoreline schools. “The most pressing things [are] repairs to school sites,” district superintendent Bob Raines said. “Out here the weather’s hard on buildings, so [this allows us to be] able to fix what’s breaking. One of the jokes I use a lot is we’re not building any hot tubs for the superintendent.” 

A list of viable projects presented to voters last year included repairing or replacing leaky roofs and windows, acquiring or upgrading campus security systems, renovating and constructing wellness and family centers, and improving student access to computers. 

There are now 34 projects listed on the district’s website ranked in terms of need, with nine receiving a top-priority rating, indicating that they are needed within five years. Mr. Raines said those projects, nearly all of which are for deferred maintenance, will cost over $16 million. 

Such maintenance projects “are not very sexy,” he said, “but with all the weather that we’ve been having, the idea that we don’t have to worry about teachers and kids working in classrooms that are drippy [or] about instructional materials like books and things being damaged, that’s the [priority] to me. I’m happy we get to do something about that.” 

Repairs were last made at Tomales High School roughly a decade ago, Mr. Raines said, and West Marin School hasn’t seen repairs for over two decades. And although he is excited about the repairs, Mr. Raines noted that they make it unlikely the district will have enough funding for projects like installing an industrial dishwasher in the Tomales High cafeteria, where students currently use disposable plates and plasticware. 

Funds from the measure will be distributed based on need, though the district is hoping to make fundamental repairs at every site. For the top-priority projects, estimated costs are $4.7 million at West Marin, $3.7 million at Tomales High, $2.7 at Tomales Middle School, $1.7 at Tomales Elementary School, $1.1 million at Inverness School and just over $800,000 at Bodega Bay Elementary School. 

Larger projects will require state approval, such as replacing the roof at West Marin, repairing the siding and windows at the Inverness School, and replacing carpeting at a few of the schools; these projects are slated to begin in the summer of 2020. 

In the meantime, the district hopes to tackle the rehabilitation of a building for bus drivers located in the district’s bus depot. To do so, earlier this year the district issued $7.5 million of the Measure I bonds, the amount anticipated to cover the bus yard work, gym flooring and bleacher renovations at Tomales Middle School, siding and roof work at Tomales Elementary, Middle, and High schools, and the replacement of a portable at Bodega Bay. 

Per the terms of the bond, the Board of Trustees was required to establish an independent citizens’ oversight committee to ensure that the bond proceeds would go toward the projects listed on the ballot measure. The school board approved the committee’s bylaws and charter in January and approved applicants in March. Mr. Raines said they are still looking for more committee members. 

Additionally, the school board must conduct financial audits of the bond proceeds each year. 

By law, the district could have proposed a $60 million bond; although it originally proposed a $30 million bond, it decided to put the $19.5 million figure on the ballot instead after discussions with the community showed more interest in a smaller measure. There have been two bond measures to support the school district in recent years: one in 2000 worth $7 million, and another in 2009 worth nearly $9.3 million.