District officials react to Measure US failure

Politics and government

Sulphur Springs Union School District officials expressed disappointment as the $78 million Measure US fell behind with district voters after Tuesday’s Presidential Primary Election results were released.

Measure US, if approved, would have provided the district with $78 million in general obligation bonds to upgrade and modernize the nine school facilities within the district.

“We are obviously disappointed with the outcome of Measure US,” said SSUSD board President Shelley Weinstein via text Wednesday. “A lot of volunteers came out to endorse and support the measure and we sincerely thank them for their support.”

The measure required 55% voter approval to be passed. As of Wednesday afternoon, “yes” votes totaled 41.8% (3,560 votes) and opposing votes totaled 58.1% (4,940).

Measure US comes after the approval of Measure CK in 2012, which provided the district with $72 million which, similar to Measure US, was meant to replace buildings and provided for other improvements at school facilities.

“I don’t think people like the layers of one bond over the another,” said local resident Steve Petzold, who opposed the measure. “(Measure) CK was $72 million, then the district came back and wanted another $78 million. That’s $150 million over eight years.”

SSUSD Superintendent Catherine Kawaguchi declined to be interviewed, but issued a prepared statement in response to the request.

“Throughout the region last night, school bonds did not achieve the support that we are used to seeing,” Kawaguchi said in the statement. “Here in Canyon Country, we are obviously very disappointed in the outcome of Measure US. But we are so thankful for all of the teachers, principals, parents, public safety leaders, elected officials and citizens who supported this measure. And today, we are more committed than ever to ensuring that our schools remain among the best in the region, and that our kids will continue to get the high-quality education they deserve.”

The Signal has previously reported the district has approximately $10 million left from Measure CK, according to Kawaguchi. 

Board member Lori MacDonald said she believes the measure did not pass due to state Proposition 13, which would have authorized $15 billion in bonds for school and college facilities in California, including $9 billion for preschool and K-12 schools, $4 billion for universities and $2 billion for community colleges.

“The state doesn’t spend dollars as they say they’re going to,” said MacDonald. “People might think it’s double tax for the same thing, since both are money for schools.”

MacDonald added the school board has not discussed if another measure will be placed on a future ballot, and said the district will have to “get creative” with projects to upgrade school facilities.

“We still have plans to finish Pinetree (Elementary School) with (Measure) CK dollars. After that we’ll have to get creative with how we go about doing projects,” MacDonald added. “It’s going to be a lot harder because the state doesn’t help much, so it’s something we’ll have to talk about and get creative.”

Election results are preliminary unofficial numbers from the Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk.

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