Dublin Unified School District voters will soon decide if another new bond measure is the key to helping fix continued overcrowding in local schools.
Three school bond measures totaling $566 million have passed in Dublin since 2004; residents will choose whether to support a fourth bond initiative for $290 million, on the ballot as Measure J, in the March 3 primary election.
Last month, the Board of Trustees unanimously placed the $290 million bond measure on the ballot, following a previous failed attempt for consensus in November. The board was mostly compelled to add the initiative in order to complete the second phase of the future new high school, and to also construct a middle school on the Dublin Crossings site.
With a student population that's swelled by almost 200% in the past 10 years and forecast to grow another 25% during the next decade, school officials have been scrambling to add more funds and, thereby, add more capacity and meet community demands.
Measure J asks: "To improve the quality of education with funding that cannot be taken by the State, shall Dublin Unified School District update/modernize older schools, complete the second comprehensive high school and construct a middle school to relieve overcrowding, by adopting a measure authorizing $290,000,000 in bonds at legal interest rates, averaging $18,300,000 raised annually, with rates averaging $50 per $100,000 of assessed valuation while bonds are outstanding, with annual audits, citizens oversight, and all funds benefiting Dublin schools?"
If the 55% threshold of registered voters required to pass Measure J is realized, property owners would experience an annual tax increase of $50 per $100,000 of assessed property value.
Measure J would generate an estimated $18.3 million in revenue for DUSD each year, which would be used for the new high school, development of a middle school, and upgrades for facilities, technology and safety at both Dougherty Elementary and Cottonwood Creek, including money for a gym at the latter, if it remains a K-8 campus.
If Measure J passes, Dublin voters will have approved a total of $856 million in school bond measures in the past 16 years; locals adopted the most recent school bond, Measure H for $283 million, in 2016, preceded by Measure E for $99 million in 2012 and Measure C for $184 million in 2004.
Money from Measures H and C has been used so far for renovations at Dublin Elementary School, constructing a future engineering and science building at Dublin High School, and a recent $31 million land purchase for the future high school.
DUSD voters also agreed last May to extend an existing $96-per-parcel annual tax -- also called Measure E, on that ballot -- giving Dublin students and schools a guaranteed source of $1.7 million per year for supporting academic programs and other objectives like retaining qualified teachers, curbing class sizes and maintaining classroom materials and technology.
As for other projects the district plans to eventually handle, Superintendent Dave Marken said in a statement last month, "Renovations to Nielsen Elementary School, which was a top-tier priority in the previous plan presented in November, has been moved to a second-tier priority and will be part of ongoing discussions with the board regarding how best to meet elementary school capacity needs in the future."
Should Measure J pass muster with voters this season, DUSD could potentially receive state funds to match locally sourced revenue. State cash matches were a prime factor of the financing plan that the trustees agreed on while the new measure was drafted.