Opinion: No on EGUSD's Measure M - We Can Do Better

By Nikita KostyukSeptember 27, 2016 |

We’ve received another opportunity to talk about Elk Grove Unified School District's Measure M and we welcome the chance to discuss this issue further. We’d like to highlight a couple different aspects of this bond, specifically its development and the lack of any real teeth in its oversight structure. 

Early this year, the EGUSD  board hired a consultant to come in and do a poll of voters in Elk Grove Unified. The poll turned out some interesting results, including a tax rate of $38 per $100,000 in assessed value. It turns out that voters in the area could begrudgingly accept a tax increase of $38 per $100,000 in assessed value, but if the school board raised it any higher than that, the chances of a bond measure passing would fall dramatically (proponents, by the way, admit to the existence of such a poll.) The school board then took that tax rate and stretched it out to a period of 35 years in order to get the highest dollar amount possible (something also admitted to supporters of Measure M.) $476 million ended up as the result and that’s how the school bond Measure M made its way onto the ballot. Some call this process “transparent and inclusive.” We beg to differ. 

Supporters of Measure M also like to bring up a citizen’s oversight committee that will serve as a watchdog over the finances of the bond. But anyone who has ever dealt with local government knows that these citizen’s committees exist just for show. They have no power of subpoena, no method of enforcement, they rarely meet, and the people who get appointed to the committee already supported the measure to begin with! We can guarantee without a shadow of a doubt that none of us will end up serving on a citizen’s oversight committee for Measure M if it passes. This school bond is a $476 million blank check. The language of Measure M contains no specification nor any prioritization of funds and a citizen’s oversight committee won’t fix this issue. 

The school board voted to put Measure M on the ballot on August 1st of this year, just a few weeks before the Sacramento County filing deadline. We had very little time to review the measure and study its contents, but in spite of these obstacles, we came together and assembled a wide ranging coalition from all corners of Elk Grove Unified, from Rancho Cordova to Sacramento, from the City of Elk Grove to the surrounding unincorporated areas. We are parents, taxpayers, small business owners, teachers, and homeowners and we still have troubling concerns about Measure M. We don’t oppose any and all bonds. On the contrary, we want to see well-crafted and specific bond measures that spend tax dollars wisely, transparently, and efficiently. Though well-intentioned, Measure M does not meet these criteria. It’s bad for parents, bad for students, and bad for the district. We can do much better than this $476 million school bond. 

Nikita Kostyuk is candidate for the Elk Grove Unified School District's Board of Trustees. 

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