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School district plans for two bond measures

The Petaluma City Schools District is moving forward with plans to put two bond measures on the June ballot.

At its Tuesday meeting, the school board unanimously approved a contract with Isom Advisors of Walnut Creek to assist in the preparation of the measures. But the board has yet to determine the amount and duration of the bonds. A specific recommendation will be presented to the board in February.

Since Petaluma City Schools is, in reality, two different districts, two measures would appear on the ballot -#8212; one to support the elementary school district and one for the high school district.

The board is considering general obligation bond measures for facilities maintenance and improvements, including technology upgrades. General obligation bonds, financed through a property tax increase, require 55 percent voter approval.

The board's decision to move forward with the plan came after it received the results of a survey conducted by Isom Advisors that showed a majority of voters in both the elementary and high school districts would support a bond measure.

"The voters like you. They like the projects. We recommend putting a measure on the June ballot," said Greg Isom, managing principal of Isom Advisors.

Respondents to the phone survey favored the upgrades to plumbing, electrical, HVAC, portable classrooms, technology and athletic facilities.

The survey queried residents about support for tax rates between $19 and $35 per $100,000 of assessed value on a property.

The district bond proposal comes as school budgets are expected to increase statewide under a new funding system -#8212; the Local Control Funding formula. Under the system, Petaluma will receive increased funding, but not as much as districts with a higher percentage of disadvantaged students. However, Midge Hoffman, chief business officer for the district, explained that it is still unknown exactly how much the district will benefit from he state's new budget plan, and it may not know before the district's budget is due in June. "If there is any more money from the state, it needs to go back into the classroom," said board President Troy Sanderson. "A bond measure would be for facilities. It couldn't be used for anything else."

The Petaluma bond proposal comes as the Santa Rosa Junior College District is also considering a bond measure. The junior college district has yet to conduct a survey on its proposal and has not determined if it would move forward with its measure for the June ballot.


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