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School district will ask voters to approve property-tax hike

Jim Grant / Tahoe Daily TribuneLake Tahoe Unified School District Board members look on as board President Sue Novasel, second from left, signs the resolution to put a bond measure on the June ballot.
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The Lake Tahoe Unified School District Board took a huge step Monday in its drive to fund the district’s master plan by unanimously approving a school bond resolution. The master plan is a compilation of construction projects that officials say will improve the district’s quality of education.

Today is the deadline to deliver the resolution to the El Dorado County registrar of voters. Citizens will vote on the bond June 3.

The bond essentially is a property assessment that would tax $38.70 per $100,000 of the assessed value of a property and would provide $87 million to the district over 35 years, according to the language of the resolution.



This is another attempt by the district to generate revenue. In 2004, the district placed Measure L, a $60 parcel tax, on the ballot. The measure received 55 percent of voter approval, but it needed two-thirds to pass.

Instead of a fixed amount on parcels, the bond will base the tax on the assessed value of the property, not the market value.



The assessed value of taxable property usually is substantially less than the market value, said Debra Yates, LTUSD director of business services.

For example, the median assessed value of a property in South Lake Tahoe is $188,770, while the market value is $454,250, according to California Municipal Statistics Inc. Citizens would pay according to the assessed value of their homes.

If the bond passes, construction of master plan projects would begin in June 2009.

The South Tahoe High School Green Academy is first on the list. The academy would provide green construction and automotive technology classes for students. The project will cost $12 million, with $6 million coming from matching-fund grants for which the district will apply.

Other school site projects would follow, with the last phase of construction anticipated for August 2014.

Board members agreed Monday that for the bond to pass, the master plan must be clear to voters.

“We want to keep this as transparent as possible,” said board President Sue Novasel.

Superintendent James Tarwater said copies of the master plan will be available on the district’s Web site at ltusd.org, and hard copies can be viewed at the district office.

Even with the strong support conveyed by community members at the meeting, Carl Ribaudo, master plan committee member and Strategic Marketing Group owner, said the campaign committee will have to make a strong case to support the bond.

“This will be a dogfight all the way to the finish line,” Ribaudo said.

Bijou Community School

Kindergarten classrooms and play area: $4.8 million. Beginning in May 2010, one-story building would be constructed with six teaching stations, covering 9,550 square feet. The play area will be 25,000 square feet, which includes a turf and hardcourt space. The project would be completed in December 2011.

Sierra House Elementary School

Library Enrichment Center: $2.5 million. The library and computer lab building would be 4,900 square feet. Construction would begin in May 2011 and end in August 2012.

South Tahoe Middle School

New library, media center and classroom building: $9.4 million. Eleven existing portables and a storage building would be removed. A sixth-grade village would be constructed, as would a new student activities center, library and media center, covering a total of 19,214 square feet.

South Tahoe High School

Green Academy: $12 million. Construction includes a new three-story building, an area for construction workshops and covered parking for four vehicles. The academy will focus on teaching students trades in green construction, auto mechanics and technology.

Districtwide improvements

Projects included in the master plan address smaller-scale renovations in the district, such as repairing and expanding existing sites, improving or eliminating portable classrooms and enhancing student safety.

For more detailed information on these projects and more, see http://www.ltusd.org/board/MASTERPLAN/ or stop by the district office at 1021 Al Tahoe Blvd.


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