Besides the 11 state propositions on the November ballot, the Hemet Unified School District is requesting that local voters approve Measure X, a $150 million bond measure.
The financing will fund projects to repair and upgrade school facilities, and to enhance security technology and equipment within the HUSD. To pass, the measure must secure at least 55 percent support among HUSD voters casting ballots with votes on the measure in the November election.
HUSD describes the projects as necessary to ensure students, whether college or career bound, can receive instruction targeted for the 21st century. There are five specific areas where the money is focused — campus safety and security, career training facilities such as science and technology, deteriorated infrastructure such as roofs, plumbing and electrical systems, improving classrooms and labs, and some new construction for planned growth.
With approval, the district will apply for several matching grants from state programs. Essentially, the grants will add another $75 million to the construction chest, according to Lori Van Arsdale, one of the principal officers of the citizen committee supporting Measure X, and Stacey Bailey, HUSD trustee.
Concerned about opposition to a bond measure, both Van Arsdale and Bailey stressed that none of the money, by law, can be used for salaries, benefits or pensions, and there will be regular mandatory audits.
Also, the cost to finance the bonds and interest will not increase current property tax rates for HUSD residents. As current bonds are paid and retired, the district will seek bids for new bonds authorized by Measure X.
Security projects are a top priority, but HUSD could not delay work at Idyllwild School, much of which was done this summer before the new school year began. But Idyllwild School will still benefit from the measure, assured Bailey and Van Arsdale.
According to Assistant Superintendent for Business Services Vincent Christakos, “Idyllwild K-8 has a list that totals $8.5 million, which includes items, such as window replacements, front office update and expansion, upgrading interior lighting, security cameras, intrusion upgrades, replacement of portable classrooms, rain gutters and more.”
For all outlying schools, such as Idyllwild and Hamilton, the district plans to use some funding to improve their technology. In particular, according to Bailey, they would like to improve the video connections with the larger valley schools. For example, Hamilton has only one career technology education staff person. With the ability to connect with Hemet High School, Hamilton students could participate in many more career classes.
If the measure is approved, the school district will immediately focus on the most critical of the facilities’ needs starting with safety and security upgrades. A schedule for funding projects will be developed so projects can be completed on time and within budget.
The last time HUSD requested approval of a bond measure was in 2012 when Measure U received nearly 70 percent of the voters’ support. HUSD sought reauthorization of $50 million worth of borrowing power to allow the district to borrow the funds at a lower rate.
In 2006, 58 percent of district voters approved Measure T, which authorized $149 million of borrowing. Most of these funds paid for the Hemet and Tahquitz high school renovations and other projects.