Sulphur Springs’ Measure US behind in early returns

Signal file photo Elementary school students in the Sulphur Springs Union School District watch a live stream of the eclipse on their classroom SMART Board on Monday, Aug. 21, 2017. Courtesy of the Sulphur Springs Union School District

The $78 million Measure US of the Sulphur Springs Union School District was running behind as the county results of mail-in ballots of Tuesday’s Presidential Primary Election were released.

About 60% of the district’s mail-in voters opposed Measure US as early returns started to come in Tuesday evening.

Proceeds from the bond would be used to upgrade nine school sites within the district. Upgrades would include replacing heating, ventilation and air conditioning, flooring, parking lots, playground surfaces and portable classrooms with permanent ones. 

“We have buildings that are 50 years old, and we need to make sure we have facilities that have good ventilation systems among other things,” said SSUSD district Superintendent Catherine Kawaguchi.

SSUSD board President Shelley Weinstein was unavailable for comment Tuesday evening.

As stated in the measure, if passed, “the best estimate of the average annual tax rate required to fund the bonds is $0.022 per $100 of assessed valuation or $22 per $100,000 of assessed value.” If passed, property owners would pay about $100 a year, based on a property valued at $450,000. The fee would have been collected until the fiscal year 2055-56.

“This bond will provide the funds to make improvements to our schools,” said Kawaguchi before results were released. “We have a plan which outlines modernization in classrooms, replaces portable classrooms with permanent ones and updates our security systems.”

As part of the measure, a citizens oversight committee would have been created to conduct annual independent and financial audits to ensure the funds are spent as specified in the measure.

The measure was unanimously approved by board members to be put on the March 3 ballot at the Nov. 13 board meeting.

Similar to Measure US, a $72 million bond was approved under Measure CK in 2012, which replaced buildings and provided for other improvements at facilities such as Pinetree and Valley View Community School, which serve disabled and medically fragile students, according to district officials.

The measure was approved in order to replace old roofs, update science and computer labs and expand school libraries with modern technology, according to district officials. 

According to Kawaguchi, about $10 million is left in Measure CK to carry out a few more projects within the district.

Measure US requires a 55% vote to be passed.

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