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October 29, 2020

Gonzales School Board evaluates support for bond measures on November ballot

Tax vote in the hands of community

GONZALES — Board members from the Gonzales Unified School District recently heard a presentation on survey data from financial consultant Dale Scott about the possible support for two upcoming school bond ballot measures in the November election.

Measure J and Measure K, which will be decided by Gonzales voters, would raise $24.5 million in bonds for elementary and middle school education and $37 million in bonds for high school education, respectively.

Plans for the funds include addressing student crowding, improving handicap accessibility, repairing damaged roofs, replacing outdated portable classrooms and upgrading fire alarms, technology, plumbing, wiring and science labs.

In June, Scott conducted a focus group study over landline and cell phones as well as the internet. He said there were 66 completed surveys, taking an average of 16 minutes to complete, and the sample size resulted in a potential margin of error of 12%.

“This was a survey of registered voters in your community,” Scott said. “It is not of all community members, it is only for community members that are registered voters.”

The upcoming presidential election means higher voter turnout, which is important for support on a bond measure.

Scott presented a slideshow of his data, and one chart showed a breakdown of voter confidence in the district’s educational performance: 38% said “Good,” 32% said “Fair,” 15% said “Poor,” 9% were “Unsure” and 6% said “Excellent.”

Scott said the results were good, as the majority were in the excellent, good and fair multi-category.

Another question was about fear about the financial impact of Covid-19 in the near future.

“This is a very high number, 70% said they agreed with that statement,” Scott said.

Of interest from the survey was the personal stake voters have, as one question asked if they had, or used to have, children or grandchildren in the district’s schools. Of the voters, 52% responded they have never had a child or grandchild attend school in the district.

A majority responded excellent, good or fair when asked about opinions about the district’s fiscal responsibility.

The value of public schools was questioned when voters were asked if they agreed or disagreed that community schools are the most important asset and should be the No. 1 priority.

“This is clearly a district that values its public schools, 88% of the voters agreed with that statement. That’s enormous,” Scott said.

Voters also sided by 80% with the idea that quality schools increased property values.

One downside in the presentation came from the results of a question about whether a person would never vote for a tax increase no matter what projects would be funded. Of the responders, 26% agreed with the statement, that they would always vote against a tax increase no matter what.

When asked about the most important projects at schools, survey responders prioritized playground renovation, handicap accessibility, repair of leaking roofs and repair of leaking pipes, all of which had at least 80% support and were also part of the bond initiative’s proposed uses for the funds.

Sean Roney
Sean Roney
Sean Roney is the reporter for King City Rustler and Salinas Valley Tribune, a unified publication of Greenfield News, Soledad Bee and Gonzales Tribune. He covers education, government and general news for the Salinas Valley communities in South Monterey County.

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