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Most local school measures pass

By KERRY BENEFIELD
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

Voters passed four school district bond measures in Sonoma County, but Tuesday’s vote was too close to call for two more school districts hoping for bond and tax measure money.

Bonds totalling $64 million were approved in Sebastopol, Healdsburg, Wright and Guerneville.

Healdsburg Elementary Fitch Mountain campus. (PD File)

But Petaluma’s Old Adobe District was getting 56.1 percent of the vote on its $26 million bond measure with an unknown number of last-minute and provisional ballots still uncounted. General obligation bonds need 55 percent approval to pass.

Cotati-Rohnert Park’s parcel tax was winning by the slimmest of margins, netting 66.9 percent of the vote. The tax needs 66.67 percent to pass.

“It’s probably about three weeks” before the school district contests become final, said Janice Atkinson, county elections chief.

Cotati-Rohnert Park has been in tight elections before. In 2005, a parcel tax was denied by 26 votes.

“It’s the waiting game,” said Cotati-Rohnert Park School Board President Ed Gilardi. “I honestly expect it to get stronger. I’m thinking positively.”

“We are confident, but cautious,” said Superintendent Rob Haley. “We understand that these are not official votes. We believe we are in a good position for final passage.”

Elsewhere in Sonoma County, Sebastopol had strong support, pulling in 69 percent of the vote for its $9 million bond measure, while Wright District won with 61 percent for its $14 million bond.

In Healdsburg, 60 percent of voters approved the county’s largest bond at $35 million.

Guerneville’s $6 million bond pulled in 63 percent yes votes.

The wish lists outlined in all five bond measures are nearly identical and include the installation of solar panels, replacing and repairing roofs, improving heating and ventilation and upgrading technology.

Cotati-Rohnert Park, Sonoma County’s third largest district, was asking for operational funds via a parcel tax rather than money to build capital projects through bond revenues.

The district has seen its revenue fall from $53.7 million in 2007-08 to an estimated $44.3 million in 2012-13 — excluding potential cuts of up to $2.6 million if Gov. Jerry Brown’s tax ballot measure fails in November, district officials said.

Measure D would bring in about $5.3 million over five years through an $89 per-parcel tax.





3 Responses to “Most local school measures pass”

  1. Dan Drummond says:

    This was my first election as the Executive Director of the Sonoma County Taxpayers’ Association and it proved an interesting experience. While the Association seeks to promote sound governmental fiscal policy, we do not as many might think exist to campaign for or against tax and bond measures as they arise. The resources required to do so would be substantial.

    The Taxpayers’ Association carefully analyzes and make public our findings with respect to the merit, or lack thereof, of these measures. In many cases, we are the only ones doing so. We leave the campaigning to the residents of the affected districts. I found it surprising that no organized opposition arose with respect to any of these school bonds or the Cotati-Rohnert Park parcel tax.

    Notwithstanding the lack of any real opposition, proponents in some cases mounted substantial campaigns to support of their respective measures. Phone banks, yard signs, neighborhood walks, etc. Still, they eked out the narrowest of wins. It is not hard to imagine the results had even the weakest of campaigns been mounted in opposition to these measures.

    So, my congratulations to the proponents of these meausres, but know that your narrow victories obtained without organized opposition does not speak to widespread support. You have been entrusted with the public’s interest and I urge you to always bear that trust in mind.

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  2. Jon Valez says:

    We have about 41 school districts in Sonoma County and the only thing our county government can think of is to raise taxes again. We have some single school districts, yes school districts with one school in them and they can not figure out how to cut costs, really! How much do we pay you?

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  3. Susan Adams says:

    Measure D is leading by 14 votes (the Cotati Rohnert Park Unified School District parcel tax) with 24 of 24 precincts reporting. Teachers, parents and administrators did a phenomenal job working together to get out the vote. In the final 72 hours before the polls opened we handed out 5,000 door hangers and called over 1500 parents who were registered to vote. On election day we watched the polls and called throughout the day to remind our voters to go to the polls. Special thanks to Dr. Haley, our new superintendent and co-chair Jennifer Wiltermood and her 300 volunteers!

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