Antioch School Board’s Measure B asks property owners for $470 million to pay for $195 million of improvements

List of proposed improvements from Measure B revenues if passed. Source: AUSD

The difference of $275 million will pay for interest; voters will decide on bonds adding $41 to $48 for each $100,000 in value per year for 35 years; survey shows 75% of voters believe things on wrong track in Antioch area

By Allen D. Payton

Following the narrow defeat of Antioch Unified School District’s Measure T in November 2020 asking voters for $110 million in improvements, this past November, the Antioch School Board voted unanimously to place a $195 million bond on the March 5th ballot. It is listed as Measure B and if passed will generate $13.5 million per year for the next 35 years. According  to Ballotpedia, Measure T lost by less than a half-percent receiving 54.62% of the vote, with 55% required to pass.

Source: AUSD

That followed a presentation by EMC research at the board’s October 25, 2023, meeting which showed that a survey of 500 voters of which 400 were likely March primary voters, 75% felt that things in the Antioch area are generally going in the wrong direction, 69% said taxes are too high, 59% don’t trust the AUSD to properly handle tax dollars, but 64% believe it’s important to have high-quality, local public schools even if it means raising taxes and 81% agreed AUSD schools were in need of  more funding.

Source: AUSD

However, the survey also showed just slightly over 55% of voters would support the bond after receiving information about it. Then when read an opposition statement which includes “This would cost the average homeowner $130 per year” the support decreased to just 51%. The recommendation by the survey consultants was for “A strong, independent outreach effort…emphasizing the accountability features if the measure along with how it will provide for necessary and overdue repairs and enhanced student safety.”

Source: AUSD

Official Ballot Language

The official ballot language for the measure reads, “To upgrade classrooms, labs and learning technology, improve school safety and emergency communications, repair leaky roofs and restrooms, upgrade heating, air-conditioning, electrical and plumbing systems, and make accessibility upgrades for people with disabilities; shall Antioch Unified School District’s measure be adopted, issuing $195,000,000 in bonds at legal interest rates, generating an average $13,500,000 annually until approximately 2059, at estimated tax rates of approximately $48 per $100,000 assessed value with annual audits, citizen’s oversight, and all funds staying local?”

According to the Tax Rate Statement for Measure B in the Voter Guide, there are no district-wide bonds currently outstanding that are being paid by taxpayers. However, voters in Antioch’s School Facilities District 1, have approved two separate bonds that remain outstanding including the 2008 Measure C to improve schools in the older part of the district and the 2012 Measure B which was specifically for improvements to Antioch High School. Both measures currently cost property owners $80.10 per $100,000 of assessed value. Measure C bonds will be paid off by the end of the 2035-36 tax year and the 2012 Measure B bonds will be repaid by the end of tax year 2046-47.

The proposed bond will add $41 to $48 per $100,000 in assessed value more per year to property tax bills. That amounts to $143.50 to $168 per year for a home valued at $350,000 and $246 to $288 more per year for a home valued at $600,000.

So, if the measure succeeds, property owners in Facilities District 1 will pay between $125.10 per $100,000 in assessed value for all three bonds through 2035-36, then $70.90 per $100,000 value until 2046-47.

Also, according to the Tax Rate Statement, “the best estimate of total debt service, including principal and interest” over the 35 years “if all the bonds are issued and sold will be approximately $470 million”.

Renderings and lists of proposed improvements to each AUSD school is provided on the District’s website. Source: AUSD

Schools To Be Improved

According to information about this year’s Measure B, on the bond measures page on the AUSD website and the Jan. 24, 2024 Update Presentation the funds generated will be used to improve schools throughout the district. They include: Belshaw, Carmen Dragon, Diablo Vista, Fremont, Jack London, John Muir, Kimball, Lone Tree, Marsh, Mission, Mno Grant, Sutter and Turner Elementary Schools; Orchard Park K-8; Antioch, Black Diamond, Dallas Ranch and Park Middle Schools, as well as Antioch, Deer Valley and Dozier-Libbey Medical High Schools.

Proposed Improvements

The improvements covered by the $195 million include approximately:

$148.42 million for Safety & Security

$28.93 million for Upgrades & Improvements, and

$19.4 million for Enhancements

A message on the bond measures page offers additional details about the proposed improvements. It reads, “Antioch schools do not receive any funds from the state for facility improvements. Constant use and changing education needs require significant upgrades –way beyond our District budget. In the March 2024 election, voters in the Antioch Unified School District will be asked whether to approve a school facilities bond. This page contains information related to the proposed bond measure.

This bond has one goal: Improving the quality of Antioch Schools!!!

While there have been improvements in the quality of our schools over the past few years, the fact remains that our schools are old. Classrooms and restrooms need modernization, electrical systems are outdated, and HVAC and roofs are at the end of their life. Schools built years ago need significant updating.

Many of our schools are 60-70 years old. The Board of Education approved a bond measure to be placed on the ballot in March 2024 to address the most pressing needs of our district:

  • Remove hazardous materials like asbestos and lead paint from school sites
  • Repair or replace old worn-out roofs, floors, walkways, lighting, HVAC, plumbing, and electrical systems
  • Improve school security and emergency communications systems
  • Update instructional technology in classrooms for improved student learning
  • Renovate restrooms to make them accessible for students with disabilities
  • Upgrade and repair physical education facilities and playground equipment to meet current safety standards
  • Make repairs and energy efficiency improvements to all schools
  • Free up resources to improve the quality of classroom instruction in core subjects like reading, math, and science to prepare students for success in college and careers

This bond will update our aging schools, technology, and equipment. It will protect the health, safety, and security of AUSD students and staff. It will also:

  • Add TK-K classrooms at John Muir Elementary
  • Add a new gymnasium and cafeteria at Orchard Park
  • Replace old portables with a new two-story building of classrooms at Park Middle School
  • Modernize the gymnasium at Antioch Middle School”

To see renderings and a list of proposed improvements for each school click, here.

Part of the outreach effort includes a sample letter for principals to send out addressed to parents and neighbors, on the District’s bond measures page. It also includes a mailer sent to homes this week paid for by Improve Antioch Schools/Yes on Measure B. According to campaign committee member, Velma Wilson, they have not yet set up a Facebook page nor website for the effort.

A “yes” vote for Measure B supports authorizing the district to issue the $195 million in bonds for school improvements and levy a property tax and a “no” vote opposes the assessment. There is no organized opposition to the ballot measure and only an argument in favor appears in the Voter Guide signed by Scott Bergerhouse, Christine Pedraza, Louie Rocha and Velma Wilson.

The election is March 5th.

the attachments to this post:

Direction of Antioch Area AUSD Bond Measure Feasibility Survey 10-25-23

Tax Sentiment Bond Measure Feasibility Survey 10-25-23

Support of Likely Voters 10-25-23

Facility Needs & Bond Expenditures

Belshaw Elementary Proposed Measure B Bond Improvement rendering

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