In January, the school board voted to move forward with putting a roughly $188 million bond proposal on the September ballot. The proposal would authorize bonding to fund six years of projects in the district’s facilities plan. Under state law, it will need 60% voter approval to pass.
What happens if the bond proposal fails? Our board chair has said that if the proposal fails, the facilities plan will come to a virtual “full stop,” with projects going forward only on a much, much slower basis. This is something of an exaggeration. It’s true that if the proposal fails, the district could not go forward as planned with the projects that are scheduled to occur after 2017-18. But the board would almost certainly come back to the voters at the first opportunity with a revised proposal. By law, the district would have to wait at least six months to put another bond proposal before the voters. Since the facilities projects are scheduled around academic years, even a six-month delay probably means a one-year delay for the remaining projects in the plan.
If the bond fails, it’s possible that the district could rely on SAVE tax revenues to fund projects in the plan. But that can happen only if the legislature extends the SAVE tax, and even then the district may have to get voter approval to use the SAVE revenues. (More on this in an upcoming post.) Moreover, if the voters reject the bond proposal, the next board may feel compelled to revise the long-term plan in light of that feedback.
In sum, if the bond fails, you can expect a one-year delay in the facilities plan as the board comes back to the public with a revised plan designed to win passage.
This is a community that values education and has often supported school bond proposals and levies in the past. My guess is that if the bond fails, it won’t be because of outright “No” votes, but because of people (like me) who want to see a better plan. When the board finally presents a compelling proposal, I don’t doubt that it will pass. I just wish the board had tried harder to come up with a sound and supportable initial proposal.