Letters on Measure G
October 28, 2008
This letter responds to the questions in Darla Mazzoni’s letter in Tuesday’s paper:
Why is the time frame for the new bonds as long as 25 to 40 years? The planned projects will exist and be used for a very long period – at least 25 years, and probably well in excess of 40 years. To make them affordable, the construction bonds are issued now, and the cost paid off over a period of at least the duration of the expected use of the facilities. It is much like taking a 30-year mortgage to build a home – you build it now and pay off the construction cost over 30 years, rather than pay the full cost upfront.
The existing 1992 bond expiring in 2017, and the existing 1999 bond expiring in 2024 – how were they used, and why do they have such long expiration dates? Some of the projects constructed with the 1992 bond include the middle school multipurpose room, high school science wing, and asbestos removal at all school sites. Some of the projects constructed with the 1999 bond include the middle school science wing and public entry construction; the Mount Tallac Continuation High School; and, at all sites, electrical wiring upgrades for computer use, and energy conservation improvements. These improvements will experience very long-term use, and both bonds were financed over 25 years. These facilities are still in excellent condition, and can be expected to be in use long after the bonds are paid off.
By state law, the fair share for paying off general obligation bonds is to distribute the cost to properties based on their assessed valuation on the tax rolls.
James R. Tarwater
Superintendent, Lake Tahoe Unified School District
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In my 30-plus years in local government, I learned that the need for money expands or shrinks according to the amount of money available. Sorry, but I don’t buy the need for tens of millions in new local taxes being asked for by the school district, especially with the national, state and local economies on the brink of collapse. I do not support Measure G.
South Lake Tahoe
Voting yes on Measure G will provide funding for needed upgrades of infrastructure and replacement of decaying portables at our school sites. It will also provide new avenues of vocational training at the high school at a time when the employment market is demanding new skills.
The previous Measure A has been scaled down; that measure received strong support of more than 52 percent, just less than the 55 percent needed to pass. As a retiree on a fixed income, I do not welcome additional taxes, but a commitment of $50 to $100 per year is one which I gladly accept in this case. We cannot afford to ignore this opportunity for safe school facilities to foster our youths and our community. Measure G does not involve teacher or administrative salaries. It does not address all the social ills which our modern society has produced. It does address needed structural improvements and safety issues that cannot continue to be ignored. I encourage our community to respond with a “yes” vote on Measure G.
South Lake Tahoe
In 1979, my wife and I and our 3-week-old son moved to South Lake Tahoe from the Bay Area. Our friends and colleagues warned us that we would not find the same resources and advantages for our children that we would in a metropolitan area. We soon realized this was not true at all. We found a “pioneer spirit” in South Lake Tahoe, parents and a community that were not going to settle for less for their children.
These “pioneers” started organizations like the Tahoe Arts Project, school enrichment classes, and field trips to museums and resources outside the area. We boasted highly successful sports, dance, drama and music programs for our children. When we needed to support our schools, we raised funds, passed bond measures and volunteered in classrooms. Consequently, LTUSD graduates go on to top-tier universities and highly competitive training programs. None of this could have been possible without “pioneer” parents, educators and the entire South Lake Tahoe community.
Our schools are in desperate need of revitalization, and our career-education programs and school technology needs must be retooled to keep pace with the 21st century. By supporting Measure G, bond funds and one-time state matching funds ($15.4 million) will allow LTUSD to continue to offer a quality education that my three sons received.
There were those years ago who built our schools; we have continued through the years to upgrade and maintain them. It is now time again to show that pioneer spirit and not accept less for our children.
Please join me in voting “yes” on Measure G for a very unique and special community, a community of pioneers.
LTUSD educator, South Lake Tahoe
Our community needs to back Measure G. I don’t take tax hikes lightly. I adamantly opposed the recent snow tax, spending my time and money to defeat it. I was involved in the lawsuit regarding the failed BID tax. I believe our business-license fees are too high. However, not all taxes are irresponsibly conceived. I have researched Measure G and believe it’s the right thing to do.
The greatest argument against Measure G is that the school district must “live within its means.” I haven’t read a letter in opposition to Measure G that demonstrates where the district needs to tighten its belt to save nearly $100 million to upgrade our aging schools. Please show me … where is the tremendous amount of wasteful spending in our district? (I, for one, appreciate the fact the our superintendent also acts as principal of the magnet school.)
The answer is obvious – the state does not provide the school district nearly enough money to make the necessary upgrades. School districts across the state are passing bond measures for infrastructure to their schools; we need to do the same! We have the additional incentive of millions of dollars in state matching funds, making this measure even more appealing.
One can also think of Measure G as an investment, not only in the future of our children, but in our pockets as well. Ask any Realtor about the impact of schools on property values. Better schools result in higher property values, which I think will ultimately offset the price of the bond. Even if it didn’t, we can’t close our eyes and pretend all is well with our children’s schools. We need to pitch in and solve the problem.
Please join me in voting for Measure G – it is vital to our children and our community!
South Lake Tahoe
I am writing to express the South Tahoe Educators Association’s full support for Measure G. The funds generated by Measure G will give our community the opportunity to make an investment in our most precious commodity – our children.
Providing our children with safe, comfortable and modernized facilities where they can acquire the kinds of knowledge and skills they need to build a strong future doesn’t come free. It comes from the combined effort of our local community committing to its own future, and the state rewarding that commitment with additional funding. In tough economic times, it becomes increasingly important to invest our money wisely. Is it possible to find a better investment than our own children? To vote against Measure G is to take the stand that our kids just aren’t worth $5 per month. As the group of people who have worked very closely with your children for so many years, we can unequivocally say they are worth it – every one of them!
So, as your local teachers organization, we are endorsing Measure G, and are asking all of you to join us in giving our great kids the great future they deserve. Vote “yes” on Measure G!
President, South Tahoe Educators Association
Please allow me to correct Steve Reinhard’s recent inaccurate assertions about Lake Tahoe Unified School District and Measure G.
LTUSD enrollment facts: In 1973, enrollment was similar to today – 4,100 pupils. At that time, Sierra House opened, the last school built in the district. Enrollment increases thereafter were handled by installing portable classrooms. In 1997, enrollment hit 5,700 pupils, then declined precipitously through 2005. Over the past few years, the decline has slowed considerably and is now but a trickle. Looking forward, elementary school enrollment figures and birth rates indicate that it will actually increase in the near future.
Vocational programs are not redundant. The funding Mr. Reinhard identified is used to run the program – not pay for the facilities. Auto and construction classrooms funded by Measure G will replace the existing obsolete facilities and take advantage of $15.4 million in state funds.
Closing the middle school is impossible and imprudent. Where would the 1,000 students that would be displaced by closing and selling the middle school go? All district schools are full, including the portables. Al Tahoe, closed in 2005, is now a center for special education programs, preschool, home school, etc. Selling the middle school is unrealistic, too, because the state must give its approval. Most importantly, STMS fulfills the educational needs of students in grades 6-8.
Mr. Reinhard ignores the lessons learned in the early 1980s, when California school districts did as he suggests. They found themselves a decade later paying triple the costs to replace sites sold at fire-sale prices.
As a member of LTUSD’s school board, I hope voters will see the wisdom of investing in our children, our schools and our community. Measure G – the one vote guaranteed to bring jobs and economic benefit to our community this November.
South Lake Tahoe
I’m writing in regard to the proposed bond measure that will appear on the ballot next Tuesday, Measure G. Measure G is a bond measure to provide schools with more funding to improve facilities. As a product of the South Lake Tahoe Public school system, I saw the challenges that the schools faced and what measures needed to be taken to overcome these obstacles.
I had considered supporting Measure G until last week, when I received a pamphlet that was mailed to registered voters from The Committee to Support Measure G. It was my understanding that Measure G is “Good for kids, good for the community” and is a nonpartisan initiative. The pamphlet is misleading in that it is by no means nonpartisan. The back of the pamphlet reads:
“Vote Nov. 4, 2008.
Barack Obama for President.
Charlie Brown for U.S. Congress 4th District.
Yes on Measure G.”
I was appalled and angry at the blatant liberal agenda to push voters to vote for Obama and Brown, and try to pass Measure G off as a nonpartisan measure that will help our schools. This is just another example of how the liberal agenda misleads voters.
For as long as I can remember, we the voters have passed measure after measure to help fund the school system. The schools seem worse off than when I graduated, and we seem to continue to fund the school system and never see any progress.
After receiving this pamphlet, I will not be supporting Measure G. I will not vote to have my tax dollars spent on bond measures with no accountability or results.
South Lake Tahoe
Like most people, I don’t enjoy paying taxes. But some taxes are better than others. Measure G is one of those good taxes. Unlike other taxes we pay, the money won’t go to Washington to bail out Wall Street, or to Sacramento to be controlled by the California Legislature and spent who knows where. Rather, all the money from Measure G will be spent here in our town, to benefit us. Every single penny.
And we really need that money. First, our schools need it. Our schools are way out of date, especially in comparison with other schools in the region. In tough economic times, good schools are even more important. We owe it to our students to make sure they’re fully prepared to secure good jobs in a much more competitive marketplace. They deserve no less.
Second, because of the financial crisis, it’s clear the private sector won’t be able to provide the economic stimulus our town needs. All the taxes raised by Measure G will be spent right here and provide jobs and much-needed revenues for our local businesses. Moreover, about two-thirds of the revenues will come from people who don’t live here full time, with an additional $15 million coming from the state in matching funds.
Those state funds include $6 million to build a new Green Construction and Automotive Career Academy and a high-tech Design Academy at the high school. These facilities are critical for helping our students prepare for the modern, global economy. Measure G will also replace old portable classrooms, repair leaking roofs and ruined floors, and remove exposed asbestos in the gyms and locker rooms so our students have safe and healthy recreational facilities.
Our students deserve up-to-date, safe facilities to help provide them with the education they need to meet the difficult challenges they’ll face in the future. For their sake, we can’t let our schools fall behind.
Measure G is an investment that will directly benefit our children, our neighbors and our local businesses. It’s truly a boon for locals. It deserves your support.
South Lake Tahoe
In response to prior Lake Tahoe Unified School District bond expenditures, following is a condensed accounting of the major projects completed with state or local facility bond funds in the district.
Measure A, passed in 1992, resulted in construction of the South Tahoe Middle School multipurpose room, the STMS playground, the school bus drop-off area, and the South Tahoe High School science and technology building, all completed in 1994. These projects eventually resulted in matching funds for the modernization and classroom structural upgrades of Al Tahoe and Tahoe Valley Schools in 1997.
After the 1998 state bond and 1999 local Measure C, the district started on a series of structural upgrades, infrastructure upgrades and facility modernizations at STHS, STMS, Bijou, Meyers and Sierra House schools. Modernization and structural upgrades of Bijou Elementary, STMS modernization and structural upgrades, construction of the science wing and the Mount Tallac campus were completed in 2000. In 2001, STHS received a schoolwide structural retrofit; in 2002 came modernization of 40,000 square feet of classrooms and 30,000 square feet of exterior walks, and for Meyers Elementary, a structural retrofit.
Though state matching funds were exhausted by the end of 2001, funds were still owed and committed to LTUSD projects. State Proposition 47 was passed in 2002, and with the reimbursements, the district completed core facility modernization at Meyers and structural retrofits at Tahoe Valley and Al Tahoe in 2003. In 2004-05, modernizations of Sierra House and STHS administration/student services was completed; in 2007, structural retrofit and renovation of the STMS PE facilities.
The district received the maximum allowable state funding for these projects by spending the planning dollars early and receiving approvals prior to funding. Projects in Measure G address areas of our campuses that have not been addressed in prior projects, with the exception of portable-classroom replacement.
Lake Tahoe Unified School District
Once again, we are being asked to vote to impose more taxes on ourselves with Measure G. The deal from the state is if we agree to tax ourselves $64 million, then the state of California will also give us back another $15 million of the tax dollars we have already paid (that’s assuming the state isn’t bankrupt by then). They’re using our schools and students as pawns. Call me a skeptic, but that sounds a lot like extortion to me.
I keep hearing Measure G proponents blame Proposition 13 as the cause of the funding shortfall. That strikes me as a perfect example of how effective our legislators are at spinning the truth. I guess it’s true, they can fool some of the people all of the time. Proposition 13 was passed as a way of reining in the state government’s habit of wasteful spending; obviously that hasn’t happened. It seems to me that a “yes” vote on Measure G is just enabling our state government to continue on the same wasteful course. The real truth is, the more taxes we agree to, the more debt we pass on to future generations. I’m sure they will be thanking us for that. It’s time to just say no. Let’s send a message to our state legislators that you can’t fool all of the people all of the time.
South Lake Tahoe
Most school buildings need major repairs and modernization every 20 years. South Tahoe High School is 38 years old, South Tahoe Middle School is 59 years old, Tahoe Valley Elementary School is 48 years old, Sierra House Elementary School is 35 years old, Lake Tahoe Environmental Science Magnet School is 43 years old, and Bijou Elementary School is 47 years old. All of our schools need electrical wiring upgrades, especially for computer use; mechanical, lighting, and energy conservation modernization; and earthquake retrofits. Upgrading the heating and ventilation systems of our schools will increase energy efficiency and reduce energy costs in the long run.
Construction costs are on the rise and will continue to rise. It is fiscally responsible to fix things now (while $15.4 million in matching funds are available from the state), rather than later when construction costs are even higher.
Our kids deserve clean, safe, warm, modern facilities. Our kids deserve access to technology and vocational training. Our kids deserve the best. Vote “yes” on Measure G.
South Lake Tahoe
I have been reading Peter Guth’s rantings for some time, and have to respond to his letter against Measure G because I believe strongly in the value of education.
Mr. Guth, you state that the bond measure is being presented by a few people to “make themselves look good”? And others state that the administrators are “feathering their own nests” and it’s all about “putting money in school district employees’ pockets”? Where do you people get your information? Please show the rest of us just one piece of credible documentation that supports your claims. Have you even read what Measure G is about? Have you read where the money is going? Have you read where it is not going? Have you visited and inspected the district’s facilities?
Mr. Guth, I understand that you are a retired “educator,” assumedly drawing a state-funded retirement pension. Let me repeat that – a state-funded retirement pension. Yes, while you benefit from our taxes to help pay for your retirement, you oppose your taxes being spent on education. What a selfish, self-serving position to take in this community! You and your kind (Mr. Crawford … does this sound too familiar?) should be ashamed of yourselves.
Mr. Guth, yes, the state of our national economy is not the best right now; you imply that now is not the time to be investing in the future. But “now” is exactly the right time to be doing this, because it will cost us even more to upgrade and improve our school facilities in the future. And they do need substantial and expensive improvements. In the meantime, another school district will benefit from the $15 million in state matching funds currently allocated to LTUSD.
Mr. Guth, please stop poisoning our community with your false and unfounded statements. Believe whatever you want, but let the rest of us who care about our community do what’s right. I didn’t move to Tahoe to retire from my responsibilities, Mr. Guth – I came here to participate in the community. I’m voting “yes” on Measure G to support our schools and our community. Shouldn’t you, Mr. Guth?
Dr. Barry Keil
South Lake Tahoe
The purpose of this letter is to respond to issues raised about Measure G:
1.) It was necessary for the Lake Tahoe Unified School District to place Measure G on November’s ballot:
At the end of 2008, the opportunity for Lake Tahoe Unified School District to receive $15.4 million in California state-matching funds will expire. Their responsibility to our community demanded that the board place Measure G on the ballot for the Nov. 4 general election. The district reduced its planning to current needs, including state-matching funds projects, projects for student safety and technology projects for student success.
2.) There is every reason to believe that the district will perform the work it promises with bond proceeds:
— The district constructed every priority project proposed in its 1992 and 1999 bond measures.
— The district received more in California state matching funds than it had been promised.
— District staff are experienced in directing construction projects and in obtaining state funds, and there is no credible reason to doubt they will perform again as they have in the past.
3.) The district has clearly stated its proposed projects, and they are needed (“no frills”):
— There are four bond-assisted projects: A permanent structure to replace portable structures; a Career Technical Education facility; a Media/Design Academy facility; and modernization of the existing performing-arts facilities.
— Non-bond-assisted projects include modernization of the high school gym, cafeteria, and heating system; replacement of a 60-year-old middle school classroom wing; and safety and technology upgrades at all schools.
4.) Measure G is about opportunity:
— Improved school facilities give our kids the opportunity to gain the same skills as students in other communities.
— Measure G is an opportunity to help our local community economy with capital projects, with about 90 percent of the cost being borne by nonlocal property owners.
— Measure G is an opportunity for our community to obtain state funds for projects we need.
Now is the time to act. Please join me in voting “yes” on Measure G!
Former LTUSD School Board member
to see answers to the most-asked questions about the school bond, plus take a virtual tour of South Tahoe High School to view the condition of the facilities.
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