Why Should You Oppose Measure S
($298,000,000 Bond Measure for Redwood City School District)

Why vote “NO” on the district’s request for yet another resident tax in the form of a $298 million bond?  Because this is an expensive, wasteful tax in yet more buildings when that should not be the priority.

First, it’s important to understand that by law, bond money can only be used for capital projects (=buildings). Thus, none of the money from any bond measure can be used for salaries (teachers, aides or administrators) nor academic programs.

Unfortunately, the district’s 75-word ballot question to voters is very misleading (despite multiple requests to them in advance of their filing to correct potential confusion).  Their ballot question states there is “no money for administrators”. That’s true, but they also should have clearly said there’s also no money for teachers or academic programs either.  Regrettably, voters reading the ballot question may vote “yes” thinking money can go to teachers or academic programs to help students when that is not the case.

Second, it is well known that teachers and academic programs have a much bigger impact on student outcomes than buildings.

So, it’s especially troublesome that the district is again prioritizing buildings over teachers and academic programs, when:

  • 54% of students are not meeting California math standards (source: www.ed-data.org)
  • Average daily attendance and enrollment has declined -15% and
    -11%, respectively, in the past five years? (source: www.ed-data.org)

Instead of teachers, the district wants another $298 million for “safe, updated schools”.

But voters already approved Measure T, a $193 million bond, just a few years ago, which cited the same needs (“safe, updated schools”) with no mention of subsequent funding requirements. Common sense suggests they would have used the $193 million for priority school needs.

When asked what the expected student outcome improvement would be from the extra $298 million, Instead, they simply forwarded an article from 1993 emphasizing that improved buildings are good for kids.  Where’s the planning, prioritization and accountability?

So, another $298 million blank check for more buildings isn’t going to address the core problems of student performance, teacher departures and declining enrollment.

But beyond the fact that this tax is fiscally irresponsible and wasteful, it is problematic for other reasons.

This tax is anti-housing:

  • Tenants would see permanent rent increases as landlords pass along higher taxes.
  • Homeowners, including seniors and those on SSI, would be faced with higher taxes with no possibility for exemption regardless of need.  Someone with a $1.5 million assessed value home would pay $360/year for this bond and $210/year for the Sequoia Union High School District bond (also part of the Nov 8, 2022, ballot). That’s $570/year, increasing 2% annually for decades. Countless thousands in extra taxes.
  • Recent and prospective homebuyers (ironically, perhaps the teachers and someday students) would be disproportionately burdened with the unfair form of taxation inherent with bonds. Thanks to Prop 13, you may be paying twice (or even 20 times) as much as your next-door neighbor to support the same bond.

School bonds, just like mortgages, have to be paid back, in full, plus interest, far exceeding the amount financed.  The district estimates the total debt service (tax money from you) will total $522,984,525 including principal and interest.  So only 57% of money you pay even goes to the school for more buildings. The rest goes to bankers and investors.

Working families struggle to pay for gas and groceries. They don’t need to be saddled with this significant tax burden that will not buy student success.

For most of us, good education for our children and future leaders is a top goal. But when schools are failing our students, bonds (and more buildings) are not the answer.

Please oppose this huge, misplaced tax burden on working families.

Vote NO on Measure S!!


San Mateo Daily Journal 

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