Editorial: Get behind the proposed LTUSD bond | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Editorial: Get behind the proposed LTUSD bond

The Lake Tahoe Unified School District Board, with two new members, is banking its reputation on a school bond that could blow up in its face.

We hope not, but there’s precedent for such occurrences. Remember Measure L?

Thanks in part to aggressive lobbying by the American Resort Development Association, that bond measure went down in flames in 2004. The $60-per-year parcel tax, which would have funded district personnel and operating costs, received only 55 percent support from voters. It needed a two-thirds majority, just as this new bond will.

This general obligation bond is essentially a property assessment that would tax $38.70 per $100,000 of the assessed value of a property. Officials believe the bond would provide $87 million to the district over 35 years. If the bond passes in June, the district would receive matching funds through state grants. Bond measure language should be finalized by the end of this month.

The district needs the bond and grant money to pay for district master plan projects.

They include: Kindergarten classrooms and a play area at Bijou Community School; a library enrichment center at Sierra House Elementary; a new library, media center and classroom building at South Tahoe Middle School; and a Green Academy to teach trades such as construction, auto mechanics and technology.

The plan also includes smaller-scale district renovations, such as repairing and expanding existing sites, improving or eliminating portable classrooms and enhancing student safety.

Based on calculations from California Municipal Statistics Inc. (CMS), the median assessed value of a South Lake Tahoe property is $188,770; the median market value $454,250. Property owners would pay for the bond according to the assessed value of their homes.

According to CMS, the majority of South Lake Tahoe single family property owners ” 4,596 ” fall in the $100,000 to $199,000 assessed valuation. According to the bond proposal’s language, property owners in this category would pay from $38.70 per year to about $77.40 per year.

If the bond passes, property owners will pay the assessment every year for 35 years. For those with property assessed at $100,000, that adds up to $1,354.50 over the 35-year term of the loan.

Yes, that sounds like a lot in a lump sum, but $38.70 to $77.40 per year to significantly raise the quality of our area’s educational resources seems reasonable.

But with the area’s families migrating to less-expensive environs and schools taking the hits with fewer children, the bond may be hard to swallow for some residents. School board members are optimistic the measure will pass: They point to a January survey by the Center for Community Opinion that indicated 61 percent of the 403 local residents polled would vote for the measure.

Another 7 percent might support the measure once they received information on particular projects, the pollsters found.

That’s good news.

Let’s get behind this initiative. The community doesn’t need another embarrassing defeat.

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