Willits Unified School District
Frequently Asked Questions
Even with facilities in disrepair, Willits Unified School District (WUSD) students continue to show improvement on state test scores with a 3.5 percent increase in student achievement last year. We are also proud of the fact that Willits High School is turning out a record number of graduates who are vocationally certified.
How does WUSD plan to address facility needs in our schools?
To maintain high-quality education and improve school facilities, the WUSD Board of Trustees voted to place Measure G on the March 3, 2020 ballot. Measure G would create a $17 million fix-and-repair fund over the next 12 years. The bond would be issued in four stages allowing the school board to reduce the burden on taxpayers should economic conditions change.
Why is an additional revenue stream required to upgrade our schools?
In California, public schools receive State funding for operational costs like supporting strong instructional programs and paying teachers, but not enough to pay for capital improvements like fixing deteriorating roofs or updating classrooms, science labs, and instructional technology. All our school facilities were built with bonds, and they need to be updated through this process as well. The State does offer limited funding for some capital improvements, but it requires local matching funds. Without Measure G bond funding, we do not have the matching funds to apply for additional State funding.
What challenges do Willits schools face?
We need to improve school security, as well as repair and replace deteriorating roofs, aging plumbing, and electrical systems. Our older schools require upgrades to meet today’s academic and safety standards and to ensure that school buildings, science labs, technology infrastructure, and other facilities can continue to support high achievement.
What specific projects would Measure G fund?
If approved by local voters, Measure G would allow WUSD to:
Improve safety and security; fix deteriorating roofs, plumbing, heating/cooling, and electrical systems; pave parking lots; repair old, outdated classrooms and school facilities; purchase a pool cover; update athletic facilities; and to modernize classrooms, science labs, and other facilities that will help prepare students for college and in-demand careers in health sciences, arts, technology, agriculture, and skilled trades.
How much will Measure G cost?
The measure would cost property owners $40 per $100,000 of assessed value (not market value) per year. Assessed value is determined by the Mendocino County Assessor and is listed on your property tax bill.
Would all funds stay local to improve WUSD schools?
Yes. All funds would go directly toward improving our schools. The funds cannot be taken away by the State or other school districts.
How do we know funds from Measure G would be spent responsibly?
Measure G includes strict fiscal accountability provisions to ensure that all funds are spent as voters intended. A clear system of accountability is required, including a detailed project list, a Citizens' Oversight Committee, and independent audits to ensure all funds are spent properly.
How is the independent Citizen’s Oversight Committee formed, and who selects the members?
By California law, a school district has 60 days from the passage of a bond measure to form the committee. It must be made up of seven volunteer members who serve a term of two years each. Composition of the committee must include representatives from the business community, a senior organization, and a taxpayer organization, as well as parents with children in the district. In addition, no employee or vendor of the District can be a member of the committee.
Are there other options to maintain and improve our schools?
Our district has very few options when it comes to making necessary upgrades. We can’t rely on the State to complete these repairs, and redirecting funds in the current budget would take resources out of our classrooms and away from our students.
Measure G would provide the local funding needed to maintain and update school facilities to ensure we can continue to provide a safe, modern learning environment for our students.
Can’t the State fund school facility improvements?
Unfortunately, we cannot rely on the State to fund these necessary repairs and updates in our local schools. Local funding is required for local facility improvements. State funds would require a 40 percent match in local funds. For example, the cost to repair the roof at Blosser Lane Elementary School is $400,000. To receive State funding, we would need to come up with 40 percent, or $160,000, in local money. Only then would the State pay the remaining 60 percent, or $240,000.
Would projects from Measure G be environmentally sustainable?
Yes, absolutely. As part of planned improvements, WUSD would replace inefficient heating, cooling, lighting and water systems to conserve resources and save money on utility bills. These savings can be used to support classroom instruction. Updated systems would also increase energy efficiency, save water, and make our district more environmentally friendly.
When will I be able to vote on Measure G?
The WUSD Board of Trustees has voted to place Measure G on the March 3, 2020 ballot. All registered voters in Willits Unified School District are eligible to vote on the measure.
What level of support does Measure G need to pass?
Measure G needs to be supported by 55 percent of the vote in order to pass.
How can I register to vote or learn more about voting?
You can register to vote atwww.registertovote.ca.gov. To find out more about voting in this election, please contact the Mendocino County Registrar of Voters at 707-234-6819 or visit https://www.fvap.gov/california. Eligible residents may also register at DMV 15 days prior to the election.
How can I learn more about our schools?
We welcome your input as we work to ensure our schools have the resources they need to provide an excellent education. Please visitwww.willitsunified.com for more information.
How is this going to be different than the last bond issue?
Great question. First, this bond is for $17 million, not $43 million. The current projects involve fixing and repairing and are well within the capability of local contractors. The last bond issue included building new facilities, which required huge fees for architects, engineers, state inspections, oversight by the state, and projects so large local contractors could not do them. Also, the old bond issued asked for all the funds up front and did not give the board any potential fiscal oversight. In contrast, Measure G allows for a staged approach and fiscal oversight.
Next, the previous bond counsel made poor assumptions about local property values. This bond is based on a conservative property value projection. And we are issuing the bond over four phases so we can make adjustments if needed. WUSD will use whatever funds are available to fix and repair school facilities. We will not borrow more than we can pay off and if the economy shifts, the school board will be able to lower the tax burden if other funding becomes available. This will allow WUSD to have a fix-and-repair fund for a twelve-year period to make repairs as needed.
How old are the schools in Willits Unified School District?
While our school sites may be aging, we can still be proud of them and keep them functional and attractive. Willits High School was built in 1929, Baechtel Grove Middle School in 1952, Brookside Elementary in 1953, and Blosser Lane School in 1989. With historical buildings comes the need for repairs and upgrades. Quality schools benefit the entire community.
What’s the difference between parcel taxes and bond measures?
Bond measures and parcel tax measures are used for different purposes — bond measures such as Measure G can only fund facility upgrades and improvements and cannot be used for operating costs or programs. Parcel taxes may be used for teacher salaries and programs
Is there a senior exemption?
By law, the WUSD cannot offer a senior exemption for Measure G. However, the cost of the measure is based on the assessed value of a person’s property, which is different from market value. The assessed value is based on the original purchase price of a home, which is often much lower for those who have lived in their homes for a long time.