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School board considers bond measure

The Petaluma City Schools District Board of Trustees is considering a bond measure to upgrade the antiquated campuses, which could appear on the ballot as early as this June.

"We are just in the initial stages of determining if there is support for a bond measure," said board President Troy Sanderson this week. The board has authorized a survey, but has not yet determined who would conduct the poll or what questioned will be asked.

"We have had no discussion, other than to approve conducting a survey," Sanderson said. He said the survey would help the board determine if a bond measure is even feasible and, if so, what level of support might exist for such a measure.

Although the specifics of a bond measure have yet to be determined, Sanderson indicated the money raised would likely go toward district facilities. "We have big needs for facilities improvements and for an upgrade to our technology infrastructure," he said. "We don't have a check list, but a lot of the needs are for modernization."

He noted that the board would most likely consider asking for a property tax increase to cover general obligation bonds, a measure that would require a two-thirds majority from Petaluma voters to pass.

In 1991 and 1992, the district successfully passed two bond measures, one for the elementary school district and one for the high school district. But most of those funds have been spent, and the infrastructure and equipment at Petaluma's schools are again in need of repairs and upgrades.

"We only have about $200,000 left," Sanderson said, "and we know we have needs and will have more down the line. Some of our facilities are quite old. My grandfather graduated from Petaluma High School."

Boardmember Mike Baddeley pointed out, "We need athletic facilities and we will have a big, big technology capital expenditure. The state mandates that we have the technology, but they don't give us the funding (for it)."

He added, "The community has been good to education in the past, and hopefully the public will be receptive."

A new floor was installed in the Petaluma High School gym this year, but no funds were available to complete renovation of the gym, a project estimated to cost $300,000. Casa Grande High School is one of only two schools in the North Bay with a dirt track, which forces the high school to hold all of its track meets at other schools. Improving drainage and converting it to an all-weather track is expected to cost between $600,000 and $800,000. Petaluma and Casa Grande high schools are two of only a few schools in the North Bay without artificial turf on their playing fields for football and soccer. The district's technology plan, designed to make every student in the district technology proficient by 2018, is expected to cost $2 million.

Baddeley pointed out that the district's elementary schools are also aging and in need of maintenance and, in some cases, renovation.

(Contact John Jackson at johnie.jackson@arguscourier.com)


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