December 3, 2023


education gives you strength

Sausalito Marin City voters to decide $41.6M school bond

Voters in the Sausalito Marin City School District will weigh in Nov. 3 on Measure P, a $41.6 million bond to finance repairs and upgrades at the district’s two campuses.

If approved by 55% of voters, the bond would cost property owners $30 per $100,000 of assessed value, raising about $2.5 million annually for capital repairs.

For the district’s average home assessed at about $750,000, that would mean a tax of about $225 annually. The district, which had its last bond measure in 2004 for $16 million, has one of the lowest tax rates in Marin County at $16 per $100,000 of assessed value. There is no parcel tax.

The full tax amount would not be levied until the bonds are issued, likely in a series of about three sales blocks over multiple years. Taxpayers would only be covering the partial tax amount as the bond series are issued, said Itoco Garcia, district superintendent.

Garcia said the earliest possible date for any bond sales appearing on property owners’ tax bills would not be until late 2021. None of the proceeds from the bond sales would go toward salaries or district operations.

Supporters of Measure P say the bond is essential to upgrade buildings at both campuses to make them safe and functional for students at the two district schools — Bayside Martin Luther King Jr. Academy in Marin City and Willow Creek Academy charter school in Sausalito.

Some buildings at both campuses date back to the 1940s, officials said. At the Willow Creek campus on Nevada Street in Sausalito, water seeps in through the foundations, classroom windows are stuck shut and Wi-Fi doesn’t work. Seven portable classrooms are “well past their liveable use,” Garcia said.

In 2019, a consultant said the Sausalito campus alone needed at least $28 million worth of work.

“We have accessibility issues like cracked asphalt,” Garcia said. Also, siding and roof repairs and replacement needs.

“Exterior lighting, entry road, drainage improvement, and salt is corroding the gas and water lines between the buildings — just to name a few,” he added.

Most of the bond money would go to finance critical safety work and upgrades. Any remaining funds would go to improve technology and provide art, music, innovation and makerspaces.

“I believe it’s important to pass Measure P because we not only need to look at how our students are learning but also where they’re learning,” said Shirley Thornton, co-chair on the Yes on P campaign.

“I believe the facilities are outdated,” Thornton said. “The fact that we don’t have a music room, we don’t have an art room, we don’t have a makers room — we don’t have a better environment for learning. To me, it’s critical that we have a space where the kids can truly grow and learn.”

Nathan Scripps of Sausalito, a volunteer on the Yes on P campaign and a parent of a 2-year-old, said he and other younger families “know that this bond gives us a much higher likelihood of having a quality pre-K program included.”

“That helps families like me decide whether or not this is a school system that we’re going to be involved with from day one,” he said.

He said the planned facilities repairs “helps me look at the long term and think, great, we’re building something together, as a community, that will service our community as a whole.”

The district, which is under a state Attorney General’s mandate to desegregate within five years of a historic settlement in August 2019, is focused on unifying the two schools into one high-achievement, 500-student magnet school.

The two school boards for Willow Creek and the school district have been meeting jointly for months to work out a unification plan, which would most likely go into effect sometime in 2021.

Although the two groups of trustees have not made a final decision on a facilities plan for the unified school, the most likely scenario is to have kindergarten through fifth grade at the Sausalito campus, and pre-kindergarten, transitional kindergarten and sixth through eighth grade at the Marin City campus.

There is no organized opposition to Measure P.  Polling done by the district this summer indicates a majority of voters surveyed support the district’s education program and would back a tax to pay for capital improvements to district facilities.

At the same time, two of four candidates for two open seats on the Sausalito Marin City School District board of trustees say although they are in favor of improving district facilities, they do not support the bond measure as the best way to finance such repairs.

Candidates Alena Maunder and Jennifer Conway, who are running as a slate for the two seats being vacated by incumbents Debra Turner and Caroline Van Alst, say they would prefer the district look for other sources of funding — such as grants or corporations — to help with capital repairs so as to avoid burdening district residents with additional taxes.

“I feel strongly we need to raise money to bring our facilities up to date — our children need to be in a safe environment,” Maunder said. “However, I do not agree with the bond. We are in the middle of a pandemic. There are several homeowners I’ve spoken to who cannot afford to have more taxes added on.”

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