School bond consultant recommends more community outreach, lower tax rate

By Maureen Robertson

If Ramona Unified School District wants to pass a bond, the goal should be to bring the community a proposal it wants to support, not one the board thinks is a great idea or the district administration wants, bond consultant Jon Isom of Urban Futures Inc. told trustees Monday evening.

After surveying 403 of Ramona’s 20,322 registered voters, Isom presented several recommendations. Among

Bond consultant Jon Isom listens to a question during his voter survey report to trustees Monday. Sentinel photo/Maureen Robertson

them: lower the tax rate from the $60 per $100,000 assessed value proposed in the failed bond bid in 2012 to $39, and establish an independent citizens oversight committee before the election.

Support is near the 55 percent approval threshold, poll results showed, leading to his recommendation that the district “continue to reach out to and educate the community and consider placing a bond measure on the November 2014 ballot.”

Voters surveyed are those likely to vote in November, “so it’s going to be a slightly more conservative group,” he said. “If you only vote for president, you never vote for governor or primaries, you were not part of this sample.”

Based on survey responses, “voters are in favor of core brick and mortar infrastructure related improvements.” Voters don’t support a bond that only pays off the 2004 loan called certificate of participation (COP).

While 61 percent rated the quality of education in Ramona as good or excellent, support for a bond measure at the start of the survey was 52.1 percent, with another 4.5 percent leaning toward a yes vote. After providing information, survey results showed bond support was 50.4 percent, with 6.5 percent leaning yes.

The complete report is online on the district’s website, Click on “Yesterday – Volume VI”

.Trustee John Rajcic questions the bond consultant about the voter poll. At left is trustee Kim Lasley. At right is student board member Jessica Menjivar, a senior at Montecito High School. Sentinel photo/Maureen Robertson

and, under “Special Report to the Board,” click on “School Bond.”

“There’s a definite tax sensitivity among the voters likely to vote in November,” said Isom, adding that “the lower the tax, the greater the support.”

The purpose of the voter poll is to give the district more information from the community, “to help determine if there are certain things that we might be able to do that will help the district ultimately pass one of these programs,” said Isom.

The survey has a 4.9 percent margin of error. It honed in on the reasons people voted no in the district’s 2012 bid for a $66 million bond: “tax rate too high, don’t trust the district to spend my tax dollars, don’t want to pay off the COP, opposed to taxes, the Poway scandal, and you don’t need it,” he said.

Calling the survey a great first step in giving the district direction, Isom said the district “has some work to do to

Trustee Bob Stoody, left, listens as trustee Rodger Dohm asks about approaches to paying off the district's debt. Sentinel photo/Maureen Robertson

continue to assess and find out what’s important to the community.”

“Over the next several weeks, the board will be charged with shaping a bond program for the community which not only meets with community approval but which also provides the highest degree of support for our local schools,” Superintendent Robert Graeff wrote in his “Yesterday” report of April 28 board meeting highlights.

Related posts:

  1. Ramona trustees to review bond consultant’s proposed contract
  2. Survey shows support for a school bond
  3. Ramona trustees may try again for a school bond
  4. Trustees poised to place $60M bond on November ballot
  5. Budget talks turn to school bond for Ramona

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Posted by Maureen Robertson on Apr 29 2014. Filed under Featured Story, News, Ramona, Schools. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

2 Comments for “School bond consultant recommends more community outreach, lower tax rate”

  1. Jane Tanaka MD

    Regarding community outreach: earlier this year, RUSD Board and Administration voted to have a series of community workshops to reach out to the public… to give us opportunity to give our input on the Bond, on Common Core and other topics. We've had two since the beginning of the school year. We have another 7 wks to go. What happened?
    Some board members have voiced preference of individual citizens emailing them , and they will email back.. but this does not allow community discussion.
    Blogs and commentaries in the Sentinel and Patch draw only certain sectors of the community, and administration and board members do not participate in these discussions. The RUSD Facebook site is great for acknowledging achievements, but seldom posts controversial items. At the monthly board meetings, a member of the public is required to write out a topic/question and wait to be called, and there is little discussion or feedback. Is the Governance Team so traumatized by last year's controveries over teachers' contracts that it is afraid to face the public in an open forum?

  2. Guest

    Again, more talk about a bond. Where is the discussion about implementing real cost efficiencies? When will RUSD get a clue and implement an initiative to significantly consolidate services and reduce costs? They have so little respect for those they supposedly serve that they don't even pretend to do so; they just want us to pony up more money so that they can continue "business as usual". Their arrogance is amazing.

    Obviously, this board and the RUSD are laser-focused on passing a bond as the only solution to the district's financial woes. It is kind of offensive that they think they can slip one by us. Most of the people I know voted "no" before and will continue to do so until some real change is made. At the company I work for, we just went through a major efficiency initiative to reduce our costs. No, it wasn't pleasant, but it was necessary to ensure the continued financial viability of the institution. Time for RUSD to put it's big boy pants on and do the same.

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