Kind Readers, every once in a while we receive an essay one of the Friends wishes to us to publish. In this instance Mr. George Jacobson has written a piece objecting to the proposed gigantic school bonds that the educrats at the FSD and FJUHS districts have smuggled onto the March ballot with virtually no public notice.
The vote on the second reading of the FSD Resolution that included language changes, was actually taken December 10th, a mere three days before the ballot opposition statement filing deadline and seven days after their Notice of Intent was filed. Well, let’s hear from Mr. Jacobson:
ZOMBIE SCHOOL BOND MEASURES TERRORIZE FULLERTON VOTERS
by George Jacobson
They are coming after us, with their ravenous appetites. Yes, the Fullerton Union High School District (FUHSD) has placed on the March 3rd Presidential Primary ballot a very large property tax bond measure that will require every homeowner and property owner in the district to pay $30 per $100,000 assessed valuation. So, for example, if you live in a house that has a $500,000 assessed valuation, you will pay an extra $150/year in taxes to the high school district. But wait, it gets worse. Not to be outdone, the Fullerton Elementary School District (FSD) is also placing on the March 3rd ballot their own very large property tax bond measure, which also will require every homeowner and property owner living within the elementary school district’s boundary to pay an additional $30 per $100,000 assessed valuation. What this means is that if both bond measures—Measure J and Measure K—pass, and if you live in a home that’s assessed at $500,000, you will pay an extra $300 annually in property taxes. Both Measure J and Measure K are by far the most expensive local school bonds to ever appear on the ballot in Fullerton!
Just like zombies, these two school districts keep coming back for more and more of your money, not waiting for bonds that they already got passed to be paid off. As you may recall, in 2014 the high school district fooled enough people to get their $175 million Measure I bond measure passed (it just barely passed, receiving a 56% “yes” vote; anything less than 55% “yes” and the bond measure would have lost). You may also recall the mailers urging a “Yes” vote that voters received claimed that the $175 million would be spent on educating and training FUHSD students for “jobs for the 21st Century.”
Now, a 21st Century job is usually one that is thought to encompass the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) fields. And, for one to be successful and employable for such occupations, one needs to possess a solid background and understanding of math. So, let’s look at how FUHSD math students have performed since the $175 million Measure I bond passed in 2014. At the end of each year 11th graders (juniors) in all the district’s schools are administered the state test—California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CAASPP). In 2015 at Fullerton Union High School 63% of the juniors did NOT meet the CAASPP grade level standard for Math. One would think that by 2018 the $175 million of Measure I bond money should have produced significant improvement in these students’ math scores. But, in fact, the students did worse! In 2018 67% of FUHS students did NOT meet the CAASPP grade level standard in Math. Shockingly, this worsening trend was the same at all the other FUHSD schools. Buena Park High: 76% in 2015, then 79% in 2018 not meeting the grade level standard for Math. La Habra High: 58% in 2015, then 67% in 2018. Sonora High: 55% in 2015, then 58% in 2018. Sunny Hills High: 40% in 2015, then 45.5% in 2018.
How could such a horrible worsening of the math scores occur, given that FUHSD’s top priority in 2014 was supposedly to train and educate district students for jobs for the 21st Century? A clue can be found in looking at what the district really spent the $175 million on. It turns out that FUHSD actually spent most of the $175 million on the following: a new theater at La Habra High, new stadiums at La Habra HS, Buena Park HS, and Fullerton HS, new swimming pools at Sunny Hills HS and Troy HS, and a new gymnasium at Sonora High. An actor, football player, and swimmer is not a 21st Century job! As for FSD, its students’ test scores also make for grim reading. For example, in 2018 the median English/Language Arts score on the CAASPP test was 51% of FSD students NOT meeting the grade level standard, with 6 FSD schools reporting 60% or more of its students not meeting the CAASPP grade level standard for English/Language Arts.
The Measure I 2014 property tax bond costs homeowners $19 per $100,000 assessed valuation, and is not paid off until 2039. Already a person living in a home that’s assessed at $500,000 is paying $95 annually in property taxes to the high school district. And, this same homeowner is already paying annual property taxes on the elementary school district’s Measure CC bond, which passed in 2002 and isn’t paid off until 2027. Plus, this homeowner is already paying on not just one, but two bonds that the college district (North Orange County Community College District—NOCCCD) got passed. In 2002 NOCCCD’s $239 million Measure X bond passed, and in 2014 so did NOCCCD’s $574 million Measure J bond. These two NOCCCD bonds cost $120 annually for a homeowner living in a house assessed at $500,000. When one adds up all the taxes that one is currently paying to FUHSD, FSD, and NOCCCD, if the two new bond measures that will appear on the March 3rd ballot are passed, one living in a house assessed at $500,000 will pay just to these three education districts $590!
There was a time when school districts lived within their means. If they issued a bond, they would pay it off over the bond’s 25-year period, and only after the bond was paid off would the school board then consider asking the voters to approve a new bond proposal. Clearly, those days are over in Fullerton. If the high school and elementary school districts fool enough voters to get their latest huge property tax increase bonds approved this March 3rd, what is to stop them and the college district from coming back again in 4 or 5 years with yet another bond measure? Remember, zombies keep coming back for more.