Frequently Asked Questions
Visalia voters passed Measure E in 2012. Why is another bond being considered already?
Schools need constant attention to ensure that everything is working properly (roofs, flooring, air conditioning, electrical supply), are accessible to all, and provide up-to-date technology. The money from the state is inadequate to meet all the needs and a bond is the only option for generating the funds needed for upgrades.
How can VUSD be sure that another high school is necessary?
Because ¾ of the schools in our district are already overcrowded and Visalia continues to grow. Overcrowding means that fewer students get to participate in sports, band, drama and other activities that help them learn important life lessons. Overcrowding can mean multiple lunch periods, which interferes with the learning schedule. Overcrowding means inadequate bathrooms. Overcrowding leads to expensive portables, but portables don’t address the increased need for other spaces, such as libraries, bathrooms, cafeterias and gyms.
What happens if the bond measure doesn’t pass?
VUSD will have to rely on portables, which are a costly short-term fix. Staff will have to prioritize needs just to keep the schools functioning and the staff and Board will develop new boundary lines to try to even out the student population. Ultimately, Visalia will need a new school bond because this is the only way to generate the funds needed to create equitable, modern facilities for all students.
How does VUSD decide which schools/needs should be addressed first?
This is a public process that starts with the Facilities Master Plan developed as part of Measure E. We would work through the eligibility list, with a focus on the older schools first – those that are 25 years or older. The facilities advisory committee would then determine priorities.
The recent survey looked at different levels of property tax amounts. What is the difference between what $26 vs $36 (per $100,000 property valuation) can deliver?
The difference is a new high school. That $10 difference would fund a fully equipped high school to relieve the current overcrowding and provide Visalians with much-needed community resources.
What are the details of the cost to property owners?
Per $100,000 assessed valuation (not market value), Measure E’s cost is $18.30. Measure A’s cost is projected to be $36 starting in 2019. Note that Measure E was proposed to voters in 2012 as costing $30 – the actual rate is $18.30. VUSD’s AA- credit rating results in a lower interest rate and the increasing total assessed value in the District results in lower costs to individual homeowners.
Overcrowding is a concern – how does VUSD determine the “right” class size?
Class size is determined by state standards, through negotiations with our teachers’ association, and through the reality of needing to place kids in classrooms. We have built 7 elementary schools in the last 15 years, plus a new middle school. Still, our class sizes are higher than we’d like them to be, so we add more portables until funding is available for new construction. Overcrowded schools also lead to overcrowded streets – which means traffic and safety concerns.
California voters passed Proposition 51 in 2016 which is supposed to generate funds for schools. How is VUSD using that funding?
California has released very little of that money. However, having Prop 51 in place allowed VUSD to borrow the money needed to get necessary projects completed. The money will be repaid once the state releases the funds. Our projects are in California’s top tier for reimbursement, thanks to sound planning and careful money management.
VUSD often mentions the goal of making all campuses equal. Would a new bond achieve this goal?
A new bond would certainly narrow the gap. For example, the District plans to include a budget of over $19 million for Golden West High School, which will fund new science labs, contemporary classrooms, improved learning technologies, a remodeled library/media center, energy-saving lighting and a $4 million upgrade to aging heating and air conditioning units. We also need to ensure that our campuses are accessible and meet state standards. These aren’t all exciting changes, but they are essential.
What about the needs of older elementary schools?
Repairs and improvements are analyzed and prioritized and public input into this process is welcome. Safety, roofing and flooring, accessible pathways and bathrooms, and current learning technologies are essential and would be addressed first. Eighteen schools are eligible for state funding match for modernization/upgrades. This means that, with Measure A funding $20 million as the local match, the state will match with an additional $30 million. An additional $10 million in Measure A is allocated for science labs across all secondary schools to bring them up to the same standard all at once. Without the local commitment via Measure A, this level of improvements to older schools cannot happen.
Would the new high school have a pool, a theater and/or a stadium?
Yes, all of the above because these community resources are needed by students and Visalia residents. We don’t have enough stadium space or pools to meet the needs of our athletics programs. A proper high school includes a theater, stadium and pool. Trying to add these facilities later would be much costlier. VUSD will seek community input on the size and scope of these facilities, with the goal being equity across the District at a manageable construction cost.