On May 10, 2011, the school board decided to spend more money on fewer schools rather than make incremental improvements for all school sites that the public might not see as real change.
The TUSD assistant superintendent for business services, Casey Goodall, said the district prioritized the bond money for McKinley and Monte Vista. Planned improvements at South/West Park are also coming from Measure S money.
Now the school district has put Measure B on the June 3 ballot to raise more than $80 million to finish the work at North School, Central School and Tracy Learning Center, as well as minor improvements to other campuses.
Goodall said the district decided in 2008 to ask for $43 million, because public surveys showed that was the amount of money Tracy residents were prepared to pay.
He says the district is now asking for a bond amount that reflects the work that needs to be done, not just what leaders believe the community will support.
Superintendent Dr. James Franco says TUSD has been a good steward of the money city residents have approved in the past.
The district announced April 17 that it had saved voters $3.85 million in bond payments through smart refinancing. Goodall said TUSD also stretched every dollar of bond money and made more improvements to Tracy High School — financed by Measure E in 2006 — than were initially budgeted.
The district is leaning on those smart money decisions to convince voters to trust it with the $82 million Measure B.
The board members should have done a better job communicating with the community when they came to the realization in 2011 that the Measure S money would not be enough for every school.
The simple fact is that the children and families of Tracy still need adequate schools. The advent of Common Core standards and the reality that only 34 percent of third graders in San Joaquin County read at a third-grade level — according to a University of the Pacific study in September — make the educational needs of our community even more critical.
This bond comes with an $82 million price tag — more than the $43.1 million Tracy voters approved in 2008 and the $51 million approved in 2006.
It’s not a price we can afford not to pay. Tracy schoolchildren need 21st-century schools, and quality school facilities add real value to Tracy homes and quality of life to the entire community.
We urge our community to support Measure B on June 3.