In the November 2004 election Santa Clarans—72 percent of those who voted—approved the issuance of $315 million in general obligation bonds to fund renovation of the district’s time-worn three middle schools and two main high schools. (Measure B bond funding approved in 1997 was earmarked primarily for elementary school improvements.)
The largest and most expensive measure J projects, including the $6.2 million renovation of the Wilcox High School electives wing, were scheduled in the last third of the program duration. All projects in the master plan are on track to finish as scheduled in 2014, according to Larry Adams, director of school bond projects (www.santaclarausd.org).
As of the first of 2011, $129,337,199 has been spent from bond sales in 2005 and 2008 that totaled $198,860 million. A third and final sale of $116,140 million in measure J bonds will take place sometime this year.
Santa Clarans can expect to pay property tax fees covering the bond cost for up to 25 years after their issue date as principal and interest is typically paid to bond holders over that length of time. The District reviews interest rates and bond maturity dates annually in the hope of refinancing to reduce the cost of borrowing to city taxpayers. An independent Citizen’s Oversight Committee meets quarterly to review the measure J bond program progress.
In response to a complaint, in 2009 and 2010 the Santa Clara County Superior Court grand jury investigated the criticism that the use of measure J funds was progressing too slowly. In its report issued in May 2010, the grand jury recommended closer oversight of the program.
“What the Grand Jury saw as a performance problem was in fact the result of a careful plan to accomplish a major overhaul of 50-year-old facilities in an orderly and economical fashion with the least disruption to our students’ education,” says Adams in an e-mail.
“The bond team is fantastic, experienced, and strategic in the way they approach projects. Their thoughtful approach has saved the taxpayers money and allowed the bond dollars to go further towards modernizing their schools,” concludes Adams.