Retirees Push Back; School Bond Will be $150M

The community is divided on the proposed property tax increase to fund school facility repairs and upgrades.

Leaky roofs. Non-existent sports facilities. Ancient plumbing.

The proposed school bond would fix a lot of these problems at schools in the Pajaro Valley Unified School District, it's just tough to say if voters will back the bond.

It was that concern about support that led the PVUSD Board of Trustees to approve the bond at $150 million, down from .

The school board approved the bond with unanimous 7-0 vote, which inspired a round of applause. The measure will be on the November ballot.

But throughout the night, emotions ran high in the board room. High school students begged for while senior citizens on fixed incomes asked that their taxes not be raised.

“We think the bond is excessive," said Joe Moreno, representing the county's Senior Coalition. "It’s too much. It’s too big of a pill for us to swallow at this time.”

Helder Zargoza, who graduated from Pajaro Valley High School last week, said he came to speak up for younger students.

“I feel they would do better in school with more resources than I had," he said.

Aptos residents said they felt left out of the conversation and didn't want to support repairing schools in Watsonville.

The Facilities Master Plan, completed earlier this year, showed $200 million in repair and renovation needs in the sprawling school district. The Pajaro Valley Unified School District, the largest in the county, includes diverse communities including the Aptos beach area, rural Pajaro Valley and the city of Watsonville.

Others said they would support the bond to help kids everywhere in the district.

“We’re all vested; it’s for everyone," said Alison Niizawa, assistant principal at Pajaro Valley High School. “If you guys can support us, we will support back. We can get the bond. Everyone can get what they need.”

If approved in November, the bond will add about $38 per $100,000 of assessed home value to property owners' taxes.

Trustee Doug Keegan summed up the situation:

“At some point we just have to say we need help because our schools are suffering," he said.

Quite Big Bill June 14, 2012 at 02:02 PM
Why not just make it a cool billion and then put the regular local gang in charge of spending it? They had the millions to build the Mello Center and so they did. Watsonville’s own Bay Concert Arts was already established in our town - designed to generate its own funding directly through the box office of our local concerts and festivals – while raising an unlimited amount of funding for other local causes – such as PVUSD. We’ve been offering to generate such funding for local education ever since long before the concert hall was built. We could have raised tens of millions of dollars for local public education by now. Yet, those in charge of PVUSD are still way too important to even talk to BCA about our longstanding offer. Don’t reward them by handing them yet another blank check. Urge them to finally allow BCA into Mello Center. Let us raise some funds for local education. Then – after awhile – they might finally deserve some additional Tax money.
David H. Perez June 14, 2012 at 04:22 PM
I am in favor of paying my fair share to fix the schools, but I will not vote for a bond that once again selectively, discriminately and unfairly targets property owners. There are many children in our public schools who benefit from our tax dollars, but whose parents do not own property. This bond means they don't have to pay their fair share. Our government even requires us to educate the children of illegal aliens with our tax dollars. Is this measure going to require them to pay their fair share? I'm not sure how many illegal aliens own property around here. I might support a sales tax increase, which would more equitably spread the financial burden among everyone in the community, not just property owners. Also keep in mind that the Watsonville City Council just approved jacking up our municipal utilities costs. Combine that with so many people struggling financially with their homes under water, do homeowners and businesses need to be targeted with another financial blow? I urge everyone to join me in voting "no" on this bond measure.
Cathy P. June 14, 2012 at 07:13 PM
What happened to the mantra "No new taxes?"
Watzon McWats June 15, 2012 at 01:39 AM
I will be voting no on this one, much for the same reasons as David Perez. Additionally, I don't have children in part because I can not afford to take care of them while living on the central coast in a responsiable manner, now you want me to support my neighbors kids, much of whom couldn't responsiably afford to have them either? Sorry, but no. Sales tax would make a little more sense, I should not be targeted because I own a home. But even then, I do not trust that any new taxes will make a measurable difference. I feel as if much of our money will become diluted by the costs of beurocracy, red tape, administrative costs, etc. Ya know, when I was in school and we needed somethin', we had car washes, bake sales, crab feeds, etc. How 'bout ya let the families who use these schools generate the funds for upgrades and repairs.
William June 15, 2012 at 02:22 AM
Taxes and bonds are very different financial instruments, we should not interchange the two, that would be an expensive mistake. Taxes can be repealed or contain a sunset clause, while bonds are sold in the market and that's it, we are committed for the length of the bonds life.
William June 15, 2012 at 02:27 AM
I don't believe that your car washes and bake sales paid for the school buildings.
Quite Big Bill June 15, 2012 at 08:47 PM
That’s just my point William. Car washes and bake sales will never fund much of anything because they just repeatedly flog the same old crowd of local folks a few bucks at a time. On the other hand, “Watsonville’s Own” concert producing nonprofit Bay Concert Arts has always drawn our major support from dozens, hundreds and even thousands of miles away. People who travel such distances to support great music have extra money burning holes in their pockets. BCA supporters represent huge piles of new outside money flowing into Watsonville on a regular basis. The Mello Center holds more than seven hundred people. Allow BCA to put butts in those seats and we’ll generated thousands of dollars every time our professional quality concert artists walk out on that stage. It doesn’t have to stop with the Mello. There are plenty of other expensive publicly owned buildings in Watsonville that can’t even afford to stay open most of the time because of their pathetic budget problems. Ironically, many of them have excellent acoustics and are well suited for dual purpose as casual music venues. Wake up Watsonville. Bay Concert Arts is the real deal and we want to help.
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