Steve Petzold | A Watershed Election for Taxpayers

Letters to the Editor
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On the morning of March 3, I was very confident that the Sulphur Springs Union School District’s Measure US would fail to gain the 55% supermajority required for passage.

While the vote canvas is not complete, the preliminary result appears to reflect that this bond measure was an epic failure. 

Fifty-eight percent of the voters registered a no vote, soundly rejecting the district’s proposal to sell another $78 million in general obligation bonds for the purpose of capital improvements.

Measure US deserved to fail. The bond language was not specific as to the projects to be funded, and voters remembered that they had generously approved Measure CK ($72 million) in 2012. Taxpayers rightfully asked why should they approve another bond after eight short years. 

The Sulphur Springs District failed to maintain a quorum for the Citizens Bond Oversight Committee (Measure CK) for two years, a committee ostensibly established to protect the taxpayers. There was no reason to believe that Measure US would be any different.

The election of March 3 appears to a watershed for California. After years of passing school bonds at an 80- to 90% rate, only 30% of proposed school bonds and parcel tax proposals are expected to pass statewide.

Even Proposition 13, a statewide bond proposal to provide “matching funds” for districts that approved local bond measures, appears to be going down to defeat.

I believe it is time that local school districts in the Santa Clarita Valley look to merge with each other to reduce administrative excess and redundancy. Districts should begin to cut costs and stop looking to the taxpayer to increase voted indebtedness,

In the 21st Century, the age of One Valley One Vision, it is unnecessary to have four separate elementary school districts (Saugus, Sulphur Springs, Newhall, and Castaic). 

Santa Clarita Water appears to be a successful merger of a water wholesaler with local retailers, and the forecast for budget savings seems to have been realized. We can do the same for the local school districts and give the taxpayers the much-needed relief they deserve.

I expect it will be a long time before another local school bond passes muster with voters in the SCV. It is time to work on cost reduction accomplished through smart and strategic management and planning.

Steve Petzold

Santa Clarita

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