Misleading Statistic Used In Editorial Against San Leandro Measure N
In an editorial in opposition to Measure N, a school bond for the San Leandro Unified School District, the editor recognized that the school district had significant facility needs. The editor, however, opposed Measure N asserting that the size of the bond measure, $198 million, was too large. Combined with earlier debt approved by San Leandro voters, the total debt if Measure were adopted would equivalent to $58,000 per student.
The $58,000 per student statistic is meaningless as school districts are limited by law as to how much bond debt they can issue based on the assessed value of all property in the district. The San Leandro Unified School District will be under the limit and in compliance with state law even with the passage of Measure N. The statistic is also highly misleading. It is based on the false assumption all bonds, past and present, adopted in San Leandro schools are just for the 9,000 students in the school district today. The classrooms and facilities that were built with the past bonds adopted by the community and the ones that will be built under Measure N are for multiple generations of students. These structures will last for at least 60 years or longer.Thus, if we want to divide the cost of the school district's bond debt per student, we should use not 9,000 students attending San Leandro schools in 2020 but the likely 50,000 students that will attend our schools over the next 60 years. If we did that, the cost per student would be $10,300. But even that number doesn't mean anything. Bond measures are set based upon the facility needs of the school district. The school district conducted a comprehensive facility needs assessment in 2016. The price tag for the work identified was $300 million. The district started on this work with Measure J1 - set at $104 million. The work has come in on time and on budget. The district is now seeking to finish the work identified in the 2016 facility needs assessment with Measure N. That is why the bond is set at $198 million. The editor recognized that San Leandro schools have significant facility needs and implied he would have supported a small bond measure. My response to that is, no, that's not wise. We don't need or want a bond measure this year for $100 million and another bond measure in four years for another $100 million. With the strong local economy, construction costs are escalating. If we delay finishing the work needed, the cost of a third bond to complete the work would not be $100 million. It would be significantly higher. Finally, keep in mind the school district's earliest bond measures will be paid off entirely in the coming years, significantly reducing the district's overall bond debt. The 1997 Measure A bond ($53 million) expires in a few years followed by the 2006 Measure B bond ($109 million). San Leandro is a safer and more prosperous city than it was 20 years ago. A significant reason for this is that we as a community have invested generously in our local public schools over the past twenty years. We should be proud of what we have accomplished as a community.