The school bond picture is starting to get a little clearer.
On Tuesday evening, the Board of Education directed staff to move forward with the intention of putting the bond on the Nov. 6 ballot with a $260 million minimum.
"It's not a question of if we should have a bond, but it's a question of how much and what to prioritize," Board of Education president Greg Marvel said. "We will lose millions in construction costs if we delay any longer. We need to go in November."
The district has cited extremely low construction costs as one of the reasons to get a bond approved sooner rather than later.
Bond projects need prioritizing
Yet, what exactly will be in the bond is still a question. The Facilities Advisory Committee has identified nearly $400 million in facilities needs and has prioritized these projects, all 101 of them (see attached PDF for draft list). This list, however, is not a one-for-one translation of the priorities the bond project list would take.
Some of the larger projects including building a new permanent school in Dougherty Valley ($24 million), a new three-story building and courtyard at ($22 million), a new 18-classorm building at (nearly $14 million), the entire renovation of 's campus (nearly $11 million), and a host of renovations (about $40 million).
Though the board agreed that it would be ideal to get all of these projects done, voter approval of a $400 million school bond would be impossible. "What we want is $400 million," board member Denise Jennison said, "but what can we get... or we get nothing."
What the community will support
Over the winter, an outside firm, EMC Research, . It found that 52 percent of the residents surveyed said they would vote yes for a $260 million bond measure, while 41 percent said they would vote no. For the bond to pass, it would need a 55 percent pull.
There was discussion of moving the bond price point up from $260 million to nearly $300 million. Sending out another survey with a higher bond number to see what the community would support came up, as well as what the threshold of support would be on the current survey if the price increased.
"If we were to go with $285 (million), or $280 (million), is that going to create such a statistical difference (in the survey findings)?" board member Paul Gardner asked.
"I'm not sure we could get enough (votes) for $400 million, but for $294 to $296, we would," Marvel said. "We should try to get as close to $300 as we can, but not at or over."
The board went back and fourth about what the district needs and what the district wants.
"We need a mix of what the community will support and what we feel we need now," Board vice-president Ken Mintz said.
"We need that sweet spot," Marvel added.
What exactly that sweet spot is, however, is still a mystery. The board will need to determine the exact bond number it wants to go with and then determine the project priorities. "You're chasing your tail until you decide how much money you need," SRVUSD Superintendent Steve Enoch told the board.
The board directed staff to reexamine the survey and if raising the bond amount would affect its results.
A confident Marvel
In February, the board discussed putting a bond measure on the June 5 primary date but decided there wasn't enough prep time and . Marvel being the lone "aye."
At that meeting he said the reservoir of goodwill toward the district and the faith the parents had in the board's leadership would make a June 5 ballot successful. "They've seen what we've done with their money. We've done a bang-up job and stretched every penny," he said in February.
His confidence continued on Tuesday.
"At minimum, 50 percent will vote yes, no matter what we do," he said. "Even if we were doing a marginal job we would get 50 percent because people here support the kids in the schools."
Marvel is also running for reelection in November.
"They say don't run for reelection and support a tax increase at the same time," Marvel said. "If the voters throw me out of office for doing the right thing for the kids, so be it."