In January 2015, the Simi Valley Unified School District's Board of Trustees directed District staff to research the facility needs of District schools and the feasibility of placing a local school construction and modernization bond measure before Simi Valley voters in 2016 to address those needs.
An extensive process unfolded that included a districtwide Facility Needs Assessment that identified $239 million in facility and technology needs to support 21st century learning environments for SVUSD students.
In addition, the District surveyed the community and found that Simi Valley residents support investing in their local public schools to provide a safe learning environment, support today's instructional technology and meet challenging academic standards.
While the District has maintained and upgraded its schools through the years, there is still a need to repair and modernize older buildings and classrooms to prepare students for success in college and career. State funding for maintaining and improving school facilities has dwindled over the years while needs have grown.
Based upon this information, the Board of Trustees determined that passage of a local bond measure is both necessary and feasible. The Board of Education adopted a Resolution on May 10, 2016 at its Regular Board Meeting to place Measure X before voters on the November 2016 ballot.
This measure will authorize the District to sell $239 million in General Obligation bonds to repair and upgrade Simi Valley Unified School District's schools. Should Simi Valley voters approve Measure X, the District will be eligible for an estimated $50 million in matching funds from the State of California.
THE FOLLOWING IS THE ABBREVIATED LANGUAGE OF THE 2016 BOND MEASURE AS IT APPEARED ON THE NOV. 8 BALLOT:
“To improve the quality of education; modernize and upgrade outdated classrooms, science labs, restrooms and school facilities; repair and replace leaky roofs; upgrade or renovate inadequate electrical and deteriorating plumbing and sewer systems; improve student access to computers/modern technology; and make health, safety and handicapped accessibility improvements, shall Simi Valley Unified School District issue $239,000,000 of bonds at legal interest rates, include an independent citizens’ oversight committee, NO money for administrative salaries or be taken by the state?”
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Although it appears that our schools are in good shape based on achievements by our students, our school facilities need to be improved. Faced with aging classrooms, and the need to bring school facilities up to current standards, the Simi Valley Unified School District is considering placing a general obligation bond measure on an upcoming ballot that would modernize and renovate our aging schools.
The following information is provided to assist voters in understanding the facts behind the proposed measure and how its passage will affect the District and our community.
What is the proposed G.O. bond measure?
The proposed measure is a $239 million general obligation (G.O.) bond program. The measure is intended to address the needs of the student population through modernization and renovation projects at the District’s 28 schools.
What is a G.O. bond?
G.O. bonds fund projects such as the renovation of classrooms and school facilities, as well as construction of new schools and classrooms. Similar to a home loan, G.O. bonds are typically repaid over 30 years. The loan repayment comes from a tax on all taxable property--residential, commercial, agricultural and industrial--located within the District’s boundaries.
Why is the District considering placing a measure on the ballot?
Our schools are outdated and major upgrades and renovations need to be made. Although our schools have been well maintained over the years, our schools are old with aging classrooms and facilities. The average age of Simi Valley Unified School District schools is 51 years old. Today, our schools need major classroom and infrastructure improvements to maintain the quality of education provided to local students. By investing in our schools, we can meet today’s safety, technological, and educational standards as well as better our community.
Why can’t the District meet its facilities needs with its current budget?
Today, the scope of improvements needed at the Simi Valley Unified School District is far more than the current funding sources available. The per pupil funding which the District receives from the state is intended to be used for the day-to-day business of educating children and not the cost of upgrading, modernizing, and repairing facilities.
How did the District come up with the project list for the proposed measure?
Over the several months with input from staff, teachers, parents, community leaders, and an architect, the District has prepared a School Facilities Needs Analysis. The Needs Analysis identifies the major repairs and upgrades that need to be made.
Specific types of projects identified include:
- Repair or replace leaky roofs
- Modernize and renovate science labs
- Replace deteriorating plumbing and sewer systems.
- Replace outdated heating, ventilation and air-conditioning systems
- Modernize classrooms to meet today’s teaching and learning standards
- Increasing student access to computers and modern technology.
Has the District ever passed a school improvement measure?
Yes. The District has passed a school improvement measure over 25 years ago in 1989 and another more recently in 2004. Funds from the previous measures were used to renovate, modernize and construct schools and facilities. The proposed measure would provide key funding to bring Simi Valley schools up to 21st century standards as well, construct new classrooms, make health and safety improvements, and improve student access to computers and modern technology.
What will the passage of the proposed measure mean for our students and the community?
This measure will provide our students with a better learning environment by making repairs and upgrades to existing classrooms and school facilities; many of which are also used by and available to the community such as the libraries and playing fields.
What will happen if the proposed measure does not pass?
If the measure does not pass, our classrooms and school facilities will continue to deteriorate. In addition, funds that would otherwise go to classroom instruction will be needed to make critical safety repairs and improvements at each school. Major repairs will need to be postponed and as a result will potentially be more expensive to make.
What will the proposed measure cost?
The tax rate per property owner is estimated to be $39 per $100,000 of assessed valuation per year. (Do not confuse assessed valuation with market value. Assessed valuations are the value placed on property by the County and are almost always lower than market values). Check your property tax statement for your current assessed valuation.
How can I be sure that all funds will be spent on improving our local schools?
By law, all bond funds have to be spent locally and cannot be taken by the state. In addition, a local independent citizens’ oversight committee will be established to ensure that bond funds are properly spent. Also by law, there must be annual audits of expenditures and no bond money can be used for teacher or administrative salaries.