Letter: Tell the whole truth about school bonds

479
Editorial opinion

The front page article in the Jan. 29 edition of a local publication, “Bond will fix and upgrade schools, facilities for the next 30 years” tells the truth, but not the whole truth. It tells the school district’s side of the $900 MILLION bond measure on the March 3 ballot. 

I received the “County Voter Information Guide” in the mail on Feb. 7. The “Tax Rate Statement” was submitted by Morgan Hill Unified School District Superintendent Steve Betando and appears on page 15. The last sentence of paragraph 1 states, “The final fiscal year in which it is anticipated that the tax will be collected is 2089-2090.” Starting in 2020-2021, that is 69 YEARS of payments. 

Sixty-nine years was not mentioned in the Jan. 29 article. Sixty-nine years shows how huge this debt will be. 

Paragraph 3 of the voter guide states that if all the bonds are sold, the approximate amount to pay them off is $2 BILLION. 

Also, in the middle of the last paragraph of the voter guide it states, “The date of sale and the amount of bonds sold at any given time will be determined by the District based on the need for construction funds and other factors.” It does not say that the money will be metered out over 69 years, or 30 years, or any specific time span. 

The Jan. 29 article states, “During a 30 year period, money will be spent for….” So what is going to happen in the remaining 39 years? In effect, the district is asking for the equivalent of a line of credit for $900 Million to use as they want (as long as it is for facilities or equipment), when they want, and the taxpayer has to pay for it. This is very much like buying a car and signing a contract to make payments for 20 years even though you know you are going to want a new car in 10 years or less.

The County Counsel’s Impartial Analysis of Measure I (page 12 of the County Voter Information Guide) reiterates the district’s statements, but does not give an analysis of the costs of the various projects or their fiscal impact. I had hoped that the Impartial Analysis would give an unbiased opinion, but it refrained from giving any opinion, either supporting or opposing, the district’s conjecture that this bond will help “retain and attract quality teachers.” 

In my opinion, it is ridiculous to think that a teacher would choose a job in Morgan Hill that pays $7,000 to $9,000 dollars less a year than our neighbors to the north simply because the buildings are well maintained and upgraded.

Even though I am a retired public school teacher with over 50 years in the classroom, I oppose this bond measure. I have always wanted what is best for our children and I am sure everybody else does too. 

But this bond is way overpriced and it will not improve our student’s access to quality education. It is going to impose an enormous tax burden on the community. It does not address the problem of staffing those beautifully maintained classrooms with good teachers. The school board can submit a more reasonable measure for the November ballot covering needs for the next 10-15 years. 

Patricia Gomez

Morgan Hill