Government / Politics

School bonds pass, school boards get new members

Local voters support local school district bonds, just a couple years after approving similar measures to help fund improvements to local schools
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Two years after San Benito County voters approved school bonds for the Hollister and San Benito High School districts, they apparently did so again on Tuesday, approving a $60 million bond for the high school and a $36 million bond for the elementary school district. Both measures, dubbed U and V, respectively, had more than the 55 percent needed for passage, with some ballots still left to count.

Measure U received 61.64 percent of the vote, nearly 7 points ahead of the minimum required. The $60 million bond would help to fund major improvements to San Benito High School including upgrades to science classrooms and labs, repairs to old plumbing and outdated electrical systems, improvements to school access for students with disabilities, removal of asbestos, lead paint and other hazardous materials throughout campus buildings, additional classrooms to address overcrowding and continued growth and to seismically retrofit buildings for earthquake safety.

Superintendent John Perales told BenitoLink by email, "I would first like to recognize our Measure U Co-Chairs: Ms. Debbie Simmons and Mr. John Corrigan. Our co-chairs did a phenomenal job! I would also I like to thank our Board of Trustees and our cabinet team who worked diligently to support the measure. I am ecstatic and sincerely thankful to the residents of San Benito County and Santa Clara County. Working together and supporting each other we will build and amazing state-of-the-art high school which will also service our community. Together, we are Baler strong!"

Meanwhile, the Hollister School District's Measure V received nearly 63 percent of the vote. The $36 million bond is designed help to improve conditions, reduce classroom overcrowding, accommodate growing student enrollment in all elementary and middle schools, keep neighborhood schools small and well-maintained by building a new school near the new Santana Ranch housing development, improve school safety, security and technology and maximize energy efficiency.

Superintendent Lisa Andrew said, "On behalf of the Hollister School District, I would like to thank the voters for supporting Measure V, the Hollister School District General Obligation Bond. This bond will allow us to build a new 900+ student K-8th grade school near Santana Ranch and prevent overcrowding at our existing sites.  It is our hope that we will continue to work with the county to also construct a track and other recreational spaces adjacent to the new school.  As we have done with Measure M, we will faithfully manage funds for Measure V and do what we promised taxpayers we would do."

In the race for two seats on the San Benito High School Board of Trustees, Patty Nehme and John Corrigan had the most votes as of Wednesday morning. Endorsed by the district's teachers’ association, Nehme garnered 18.98 percent of the vote and Corrigan earned 18.38 percent. Current board president Ray Rodriguez, who received 16.5 percent of the vote, would lose his seat if the results don't change. Other candidates were former Trustee Mary Encinias (16.64 percent), Jennifer Coile (12.32 percent), retired SBHS teacher Frank Muro (12.07 percent) and Ellen Miller (4.96 percent).

Nehme told BenitoLink on Wednesday morning that she was excited about the opportunity to serve on the board. She said both she and Corrigan have plans to do good things if their election is confirmed.

Corrigan told BenitoLink on Wednesday morning, “I am very excited to be chosen by the community to be on the school board.” He added that he was looking forward to getting started and bringing change.

In the race for two seats on the Hollister School District Board of Trustees, incumbent Elizabeth Martinez led with 40.43 percent of the vote, followed by challenger Robert Bernosky at 31.22 percent and appointed incumbent Mike Baldwin at 28.04 percent. Martinez and Baldwin had campaigned together and encouraged people to vote for both.

Statewide, Proposition 51, with 54 percent voting in favor and 46 percent voting against, garnered enough public support to pass. The $9 billion bond will allow for modernization and further construction of  K-12, charter, vocational schools and community colleges. Prop. 55, which extends until 2030 higher income taxes on the wealthiest Californians to help fund education and health care, passed 62 percent to 38 percent. The original tax, approved in 2012, was set to expire in two years.

For San Benito County election results, click here.

For statewide election results, click here.

Laura Romero

Laura Romero has been a reporter and handled marketing/social media for BenitoLink. She has covered education and city government. Formerly, she worked as an assistant account executive at Pembroke PR in San Francisco, where she assisted with press outreach, event coordination, and social media planning. With her PR skills, she has helped to implement social media strategies and develop online giving campaigns for BenitoLink. Laura continues to contribute to BenitoLink on a freelance basis.