Measure I Implementation Plan a Hoax

So now, Alameda Unified School District officials have taken to referring to a “Measure I Implementation Plan,” except, there is no such plan.

As covered previously, the implementation plan that Measure I proponents talk about is a presentation that the school board reviewed in June, 2014, but it is not part of the Measure I ballot measure language, and in no way binds school district officials as to how they spend any bond proceeds.

Read the Measure I ballot measure – there is no talk about an implementation plan.

The latest hocus-pocus from school district officials comes in an agenda item for a solar panel master an upcoming school board meeting.

If you have read the ballot measure, you’ll note that it talks about using Measure I bond proceeds to pay for solar panels. But the school district has no detailed spending plan for this!

That’s the whole point of the solar panel agenda item at the upcoming board meeting – to try to figure out what kind of solar plan the district might be able to afford and implement. According to the agenda item, AUSD staff “requests time to create a more comprehensive energy program and return at a later board meeting for review and adoption.”

And even if they do this, there is nothing binding in Measure I that commits them to spending money in accordance with the program.

“Give me your money now, we’ll figure out how we want to spend it later!” – that’s what the school district is telling Alameda voters.

Voters shouldn’t stand for it – Vote No on Measure I

Measure I Commits No Funds to the Woodstock Child Development Center

As another example of how Measure I funds will be used to serve Alameda’s one percent, notice how the measure commits no funding to the Woodstock Child Development Center.

According to the Woodstock Child Development Center website, “Child Protective Services and Families who fall under the McKinney-Vento guidelines shall be admitted first. Within this priority, children receiving protective services through the county welfare department shall be admitted first.”

The McKinney-Vento reference is a reference to the McKinney-Vento Homeless Education Assistance Act, which is federal law that ensures educational enrollment and stability for homeless children and youth.

The school district, in its infinite wisdom, has decided that the Woodstock Child Development Center facility deserves no funds, and is in need of no improvements, so that the schools in the wealthy neighborhoods of Alameda will have more funding.

Read the measure.

This is a just another reason to Vote No on Measure I.

Measure I Does Not Commit to Fixing Alameda High School

Measure I does not commit to fixing historic Alameda High School.

The “implementation plan” that the school district likes to talk about, which set a price tag for fixing Alameda High School is not what voters will be voting on. That implementation plan is not part of the ballot measure and there is nothing to compel the school district to act on that implementation plan.

Proponents of the 25-year, $180 million tax bond say that critics offer “no solutions.”

Yet, the school district has ignored calls from Alameda residents to combine Alameda High School with Encinal High School to save costs, and to mend the East-West divide in Alameda.

Instead, the school district put language in the ballot measure that says that no money will be spent on Alameda High School until there is a “community discussion” about the idea to combine the high schools.

“Community discussion” ?! What does that mean, exactly? Is that one public meeting? Two public meetings? What? This is the problem with the entire tax measure – too vague, and ill-defined.

What the district is really saying is this: “Give us your hard-earned money in advance, before we can talk about cutting costs and spending less of your money.”

The public discussion about combining Alameda High School and Encinal should come before any votes on a tax measure.

Tell the district to get it right – Vote No on I

School District Sleight of Hand on Measure I Implementation Plan

The Alameda Unified School District is engaging in some sleight of hand in its selling of Measure I, a 25 year, $180 million tax bond measure, to the media.

District officials keep pointing to a June 10th, 2014 “implementation plan” that outlined how funds could be spent.

But that implementation plan is not what taxpayers will vote on come November 4th. The implementation plan is not part of the ballot measure, and, if Measure I should be approved by voters, there is nothing to compel the school district to spend funds in accordance with the implementation plan.

Read the measure carefully – it incorporates by reference the facilities master plan, which has a price tag of over $600 million, but it doesn’t incorporate the implementation plan.

The implementation plan is irrelevant – it’s the language of the ballot measure that will guide any spending of funds, and that language is vague and open-ended. Even the proponents admit that it will come down to project-by-project board votes on how the money is spent.

Voters should not approve any tax bond measure like this without knowing specifically, in advance, how the funds will be spent. Measure I does not do that.

Vote No on I

Alameda School District Asks for Tax Measures With Increasing Frequency

In recent years, the Alameda Unified School District has been asking voters to approve tax measures with increasing frequency, but there doesn’t seem to be a corresponding increase in the level of efficacy of Alameda schools.

In 1997, the district asked for a four-year $50 parcel tax which voters did not approve.

In 2001, voters approved a $109 parcel tax, which was increased to $189 in 2005, and extended for seven years.

In 2004, voters approved a $63 million tax bond measure (Measure C) which ballooned in total cost to three times that amount, due to the use of Capital Appreciation Bonds, which defer interest payments. Those bonds will burden Alameda families for decades to come.

In 2008, the district asked voters to approve Measure H, another, more complex, parcel tax. Ultimately, the courts ruled that part of this tax – the levy on commercial property – was illegal, and that the district would have to provide tax refunds. That process is still playing out, but is expected to cost the district millions of dollars.

In 2010, the district tried to replace measures A and H with a new parcel tax (Measure E) – and correct the mistakes made with Measure H, but voters rejected the measure.

Undeterred, the district plowed ahead in 2011 with Measure A, another complicated tax structure that levies 32 cents per square building foot on property. Strangely, the district capped the annual payment at $7,999 per year, which benefits commercial property owners at the expense of homeowners. The measure squeaked by. It was set for seven years.

Now, in 2014, the district wants voters to approve a $180 million tax bond measure; the $180 million amount is sure to grow to $200 million and beyond, when interest payments over the expected 25 year repayment period is factored in.

And the district is already planning a replacement parcel tax for the last one.

Alameda families are burdened with too much student debt, and they are tired of the district coming back to ask for money over and over again.

Measure I is Irresponsible – No more student debt!

Vote No on I.

How AUSD’s Measure C Bond Debt Ballooned to Three Times What Voters Approved

In 2004 critics of Measure C, the $63 million tax bond measure that Alameda Unified School District, correctly predicted that the total repayment amount, including principal and interest, would grow to almost $200 million.

Of course, that’s exactly what happened, due to the school district’s use of so-called capital appreciation bonds, which defer interest repayment for years.

Since 2004, capital appreciation bonds have become notorious for burdening school districts up and down the state of California with crushing debt. You can read about it here.

In one of her final letters to the community, in May of this year, former AUSD Superintendent Kirsten Vital acknowledge that taxpayers are still paying off that debt; they will continue to due so for decades to come. It’s a tremendous amount of ‘student debt.’

You see this debt expense on your tax bill, under ‘Voter Approved Debt Service – School Unified.’

You can see how much you currently pay for the Measure C bonds on the left side of your tax bill.

You can see how much you currently pay for the Measure C bonds on the left side of your tax bill.

You can see our summary spreadsheet of the repayments, based on AUSD documentation.

The school district has 17 school campuses for less than 10,000 students. The price tag attached to the facilities master plan came in at more than $600 million – Alameda families simply cannot afford to maintain this many school campuses.

Rather than asking Alameda students and their families to take on more debt, AUSD needs to consolidate its facilities.

Vote No on I.

We Challenge the League of Women Voters to Hold a Debate on Measure I

‘remember in 2011, when the Alameda League of Women Voters organized a sham forum on the school district’s latest parcel tax? The one where they invited the school district, proponents of the tax, to speak for 30 minutes, essentially advocating for their own tax measure, before holding an “each side gets to speak for 10 minutes” information forum with both the “No” and “Yes” sides?

Well, you can expect the League to try to pull the same stunt again this fall, with Measure I.

The Alameda League of Women Voters is not an honest broker of information. The organization is essentially an extension of Alameda City Hall and the school district.

So you can expect them again to schedule an “information forum” on Measure I in late September, and again give school district representatives time to advocate for their tax bond measure at the beginning of the forum, allowing proponents of the measure 40 minutes to speak and opponents merely 10 minutes.

This time, we challenge the League to hold an actual debate instead of a forum, with equal times for both sides. A debate with arguments for, arguments against, and rebuttals. The public is entitled to a serious debate about this $180 million tax measure that will run for 25 year.

Does the League have the guts to do it? Or will they continue to kowtow to their cronies in positions of power in Alameda?

Save Our City! Alameda to Campaign Against School Measure


Alameda, CA – Save Our City! Alameda, a grassroots Alameda group, along with a number of concerned individuals, announced this week they will actively campaign against Measure I, the latest Alameda Unified School District tax measure.

The school district put a $63 million tax bond measure on the ballot in 2004, which ballooned to three times the amount voters approved.

Then, in 2005, the district increased a parcel tax put on the ballot in 2001.

In 2008, the district put Measure H on the ballot, which passed, but was then found by the courts to be, in part, illegal, costing the district millions of dollars.

In 2011, the school district tried to remedy their mistake with another parcel tax, and they are already talking about the next parcel tax when that expires.

Now, in 2014, they want voters to give them a “hall pass” with another $180 million tax bond measure, which will effectively double what people pay for the 2004 bonds, in addition to the parcel tax.

“Alameda residents are tapped out – they have no more money to give. Alameda families are being crushed by this growing ‘student debt’,” said David Howard, treasurer, Save Our City! Alameda. “The school district clearly cannot afford to maintain 17 campuses. This is proven by the fact that not even this superbond can fund all the improvements identified by the Facilities Master Plan.”

Howard challenged voters to read the ballot measure and identify how much money is earmarked for their neighborhood school. “You won’t find it,” he said, “as the measure does not commit in advance how the money will be spent. Instead, it leaves it to project-by-project votes by the board. Voters should vote No on I and send the district back to the drawing board.”

Alameda voters will consider Measure I in the November 4th general election.

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Save Our City! Alameda is a grassroots organization that advocates responsible growth and responsible governance within Alameda.