With nearly half of ballots counted Tuesday night, most Fresno, Clovis, and Sanger voters favored approving school bond measures.
Over the years, school districts across the central San Joaquin Valley have leveraged bonds to invest and renovate facilities in their districts. Bond measures need at least 55% voter approval to pass, and the three largest school districts in Fresno County with bonds on the ballot had surpassed that with more than half of votes counted.
Measure A, the Clovis Unified School District bond, had about 59% “yes” votes, with about 65% of the ballots counted. Measure A is a $335 million bond issue that would keep tax rates where they are for residential property owners but extend the amount of time people are taxed.
That works out to $155 per $100,000 of assessed property values. Clovis Unified had a $408 million bond on the ballot in March that failed to pass.
The key project is the Terry Bradley Education Center, consisting of a new middle school and new high school on the southern end of Clovis Unified. Those schools would accommodate students out of the Clovis East area to relieve overcrowding there.
In addition, new wings of classrooms would be added at Clovis West High and other campuses where portables have been used for years.
The Central Unified School District bond, Measure D, had about 59% approval, with nearly 55% of the ballots counted. Central Unified also had a bond measure on the March ballot, but it didn’t pass.
Measure D is worth $120 million, and the cost to taxpayers will be $60 per $100,000 in property value. The money will be used to finish building Justin Garza High School, build an elementary school, and update technology at many schools.
The Sanger Unified School District bond, Measure C, had about 57% approval, with about 56% of the ballots have been counted. Measure C is worth $150 million, which will cost $100 per 100,000 in assessed property value.
The bond money will be used to upgrade deteriorating classrooms, libraries, science labs, vocational education classrooms, and fire safety systems. Upgrading classroom technology, constructing school facilities, and ensuring disability access will also come out of the bond money if passes.
Bond measures can increase student attainment, but according to various studies, it depends on how schools use the money.
Research from UC Berkeley examined the Los Angeles Unified School District’s $19.5 billion bonds used to build 131 schools over a decade. The study found the thousands of elementary students who moved from an overcrowded school into new schools performed better. High School students — who didn’t get new schools — didn’t have the same achievement gain, the research found.
UC Davis researchers studied the correlation between bonds spending and student outcomes and said he found little evidence investing in school facilities plays a role in student achievement.
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