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Hollister voters on Nov. 4 will decide the future of facilities for the elementary school district when they cast their votes for Measure M, a $28.5 million school bond measure that would fund upgrades at nine of the district’s elementary and middle school properties.

It is the second school bond measure voters will decide this year, with a $42.5 million school bond for the San Benito High School District that required a super majority approval of 55 percent of voters passed in the June primary by a narrow margin of 56.29 percent.

“The high school district and the Hollister School District are two distinct districts, with different boards of education, and distinctly different facilities’ needs,” said Gary McIntire, the district superintendent.

The elementary school bond estimated annual tax rate per $100,000 of assessed property value is $28 in 2015-16.

McIntire said that in early 2013, with the passage of Proposition 30 creating some stability in the school district budget, officials were able to focus on a facilities master plan. HESD conducted a poll of likely voters and found they would support a potential bond measure.

“We were still working on our project list in late January when we shared the poll results with our board,” McIntire said. “We knew we needed to remain focused on our facility needs, and that we needed to put together a strong plan for our facilities so we could tell voters just what we would do with the funds, should the voters approve the future bond measure.”

He said the district did not conduct a poll to see if there would be support for a second school bond in the same year. By the time HESD’s board had decided to pursue a bond measure in the November general election, the high school district had decided on a June 2014 bond measure.

“In the end, we knew we needed to focus on our district’s needs, and not base our decision on going to a June or a November ballot based on timing of the high school district’s bond,” McIntire said.

The Measure M includes a list of facility projects:

  • Fixing or replacing leaking roofs
  • Upgrading and/or improving electrical service capacity
  • Maintaining and repairing classrooms, science/project labs and school buildings
  • Replacing windows, ceilings, heating, ventilation, plumbing, air conditioning and lighting
  • Repairing or replacing water/irrigation/sewer systems
  • Removing dry rot
  • Upgrading classrooms, science/project labs, libraries, multi-purpose rooms, restrooms, computers and learning technology
  • Adding classrooms
  • Making upgrades for earthquake safety
  • Replacing fire alarms

“Our district architects have identified more than $150 million worth of projects in our district, which would include building a new school off of Fairview,” McIntire said. “Even if it passes, this bond measure will only raise $28.5 million…Our facilities committee is working to identify the most important needs – our priorities, so that we can make certain those projects are taken care of.”

McIntire said at R.O. Hardin on Line Street, which is more than 60 years old, new restrooms, flooring and plumbing are needed. Restrooms need to be brought up to Americans with Disabilities Act standards to provide access to students with special needs. Other schools with projects on the list include Calaveras Elementary School, the Accelerated Achievement Academy, Gabilan Hills Elementary School, Hollister Dual Language Academy, Cerra Vista Elementary, Ladd Lane Elementary, Sunnyslope Elementary, Marguerite Maze Middle School and Rancho San Justo Middle School.

McIntire said before 2010, school districts were allowed to participate in a deferred maintenance program that allowed them to match local general fund dollars with state funds for maintenance such as roofing, flooring, electrical fixtures and lighting. But when the state budget crisis hit in 2009-10, that program ended.

“This means the entire cost of any modernization projects, most capital improvement projects and all new construction must be born locally through local ballot measures paid for through local property taxes,” McIntire said.

Impact fees from the developers who build new housing projects in the city are shared by the high school and elementary districts, but they would not cover the full cost of building a new school. McIntire said the estimated cost for a new elementary school would be $22 million. They currently have $1.6 million in impact fees.

“Our state will face a school facilities crisis in the not too distant future because of the lack of funding for school buildings,” McIntire said. “Heating and cooling systems wear out, roofs degrade, classrooms and restrooms have high density traffic and take incredible wear and abuse.”

The San Benito High School bond measure approved in June, Measure G, project list included:

  • Replace/upgrade classrooms and labs to prepare students for college and careers
  • Repair roofs, plumbing and outdated electrical systems
  • Add 21st century instructional/vocational technology
  • Improve school safety
  • Improve access for persons with disabilities

 “There is simply no funding mechanism other than school impact fees to help us accommodate growth in enrollment, and local general obligation bond measures to provide for new construction and modernization,” McIntire said. “We must provide for our own community. There is no one else to do it.”