School District Proposes $349 Million Bond

Written by Neil Farrell

Neil has been a journalist covering the Estero Bay Area for over 27 years. He’s won numerous journalism awards in several different categories over his career.

October 28, 2022

On Nov. 8, local voters will be asked to approve a huge school bond measure, increasing property taxes by hundreds of dollars a year to start addressing over half a billion dollars in needed improvements at elementary and middle schools.

Measure M-22, as the bond measure will appear on the ballot, was proposed by the San Luis Coastal Unified School District to begin implementing its “Facilities Master Plan,” produced by PBK Architects., Inc., and approved in March 2022 by the school board that identified $570 million in needed capital improvements at the District’s elementary and middle schools, as well as the Pacific Beach continuation high school.

However, that amount was apparently too steep. “District Trustees,” reads a press release from the Yes on 22 campaign committee, “believe a more manageable amount for taxpayers is a $349 million bond, which will still deliver significant and badly needed improvements, both in terms of security, overall facility modernization, and classroom improvements.”

At $349 million, the measure will add $49 a year in property taxes for every $100,000 of a property’s assessed value. 

So a private property valued at $500,000, would get $245 a year added to property tax bills.

“Measure C-22,” the Yes on 22 committee said, “requires the approval of 55% of votes cast by registered voters in the San Luis Coastal Unified School District, which serves Avila Beach, Los Osos, Morro Bay, San Luis Obispo and Shell Beach.”

And while Cayucos students can now attend Morro Bay High, this tax increase would not apply to that town. Funding the handful of students from Cayucos who attend MBHS is handled through the Districts, with a transfer of some tax monies.

There are 11 elementary schools due for upgrades, two middle schools and Pacific Beach H.S.

According to the committee’s website, many of the District’s elementary and middle schools are more than 50-years old and even the newer schools “need significant upgrades.”

Among the needs listed are:

• A lack of “modern safety measures” including locking doors, alarm systems, playground fencing and secure windows; 

• Schools have “leaky roofs, problem bathrooms, broken window blinds, damaged flooring;”

• Americans with Disabilities Act improvements “are badly needed;”

• Utility bills “are high and classrooms miserable due to aging HVAC systems and inefficient lighting; and,

• Every school lacks “modern classroom technologies.” 

It should be noted that the District recently erected security fencing around its schools, in an effort to beef up security in the wake of the recent school massacre in Texas.

Under the FMP’s prioritized list of needs that looks out from now to 20-years down the road, Del Mar Elementary in Morro Bay has over $14.9 million in immediate (Priority 1) needs with an additional $4.3 million in future Priority 2 needs (within four to seven years), and $5.9 million in P-3 needs (in eight to 15 years) for a total of $25.3 million.

Baywood Elementary in Los Osos shows $29.3 million in P-1 needs, plus another $41.4 million in P-3 needs. Baywood also has optional work plans with one at $20.6 million and another at $8 million. All together, Baywood needs over $30 million in upgrades, according to the FMP.

Even Monarch Grove in Los Osos, which was built in the early 1990s, has $7.5 million in P-1 needs; $1.3M in P-2; and $12.5 million in P-3; with $22.4 million needed overall.

Los Osos Middle School lists $51.6 million in P-1 needs; $22.3 million in P-2; for a total of $74.4 million. The list includes an additional $8.8 million added needs under the P-2 schedule.

Laguna M.S. lists nearly $100 million in needs and improvements over the four priority lists.

The closed Morro Elementary and Sunnyside schools will even need tens of millions in work, with Morro totaling $34.3 million and Sunnyside at over $46 million.

All told the FMP has $253 million in P-1 needs; $162 million in P-2; $82.4 million in P-3; and $72.9 million in P-4 for the overall total estimate of $517.5 million.

Measure M-22 comes on the heels of the District’s 2014 Measure D, a $177 million bond to upgrade SLO and Morro Bay High Schools. MBHS projects have included a new administration building, new STEAM labs, auto shop, new track, student quad, theater, landscaping and more. Measure D passed with over 70% approval.

And like Measure D, the new bond includes the establishment of “an independent citizens’ oversight committee to audit spending and ensure that all budgets and timelines are honored.”

As for the ballot, while an argument in support of the measure will appear in Sample Ballot booklets, no arguments were submitted opposing C-22, according to the County Elections Office website.

The pro argument sites as an example that Del Mar Elementary in Morro Bay was “first built in 1960.” Pacheco Elementary in SLO was built in 1953, and Pacific Beach H.S. is one of the oldest schools in the District with some buildings built over 84-years ago.

The pro argument concludes with, “Measure C-22 upgrades and renovates old and inadequate classrooms, improves the education of local children, and maintains the quality of our community. It’s a smart investment in our kids and community. That’s something we can all support.”

If readers want more information on Measure C-22, see the Yes on 22 website at: yesonc22.com. To view the District’s Facilities Master Plan, see: yesonc22.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/09/SLOFMP_03-14-2022.pdf.

Typo Made on School Bond Ballot Item

Supporters of a $349 million school bond being proposed by the San Luis Coastal School District have discovered a typo in the language that will appear on the Nov. 8 ballot, the Yes on C-22 committee announced Oct. 17.

“A ‘%’ sign was used in place of a ‘¢’ sign,” said Quinn Brady, spokesperson and co-chair of the “Yes on C-22” campaign committee. “All of the material in the voter guide describing the school improvement measure is accurate except for the typo.”

The typo could be a big one if one were using math in deciding whether to support C-22. The property tax increase would add $49 for every $100,000 of assessed property taxes within the District — Los Osos, Morro Bay, SLO and Avila Beach.

The ballot item switching a percentage sign for a cent sign (4.9¢ or $.049 vs. 4.9%)would mean paying $4,900 for every $100,000 in assessed value; making it quite a typo indeed.

“It’s our understanding,” Gillett said “that the school district submitted the correct ballot language, and the typo happened somewhere in the Clerk-Recorder’s process of printing the ballots, which began arriving in voters’ mailboxes this week.”

Estero Bay News confirmed the typo on a ballot sent to this reporter’s home and sent an inquiry to County Clerk-Recorder Elena Cano, who is overseeing her first Countywide General Election, on what’s to be done about it.

She did not return our inquiry before deadline.

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