Orange Unified School District has placed a $296 million school facilities bond measure on this November’s ballot.  It’s the largest ever proposed in the history of Orange County.

Just two years ago, California voters approved Proposition 30. Voters were promised “billions in new funding for schools” from Prop 30. It increased your income tax and your sales tax. So, where is that money?

OUSD’s Measure K increases your property tax – both residential and commercial. OUSD is banking on continued voter gullibility to buy into government promises and their willingness to tax themselves to death.

If Measure K passes, homeowners will pay higher taxes. Renters will see higher rent as landlords pass on the costs. Struggling mom and pop businesses will pay higher rent as commercial landlords pass on the costs. Customers will see higher prices as businesses are forced to pass on the cost of higher taxes.

Measure K will add $39 for every $100,000 assessed value to everyone’s property taxes, every year, for the next 30 years. It’s interesting to note that OUSD employs a common marketing sales gimmick to trick buyers into seeing $30, instead of $40, which is actually closer to the reality of this bond.

What other tricks are hidden in the details?

Read Measure K yourself. Each of the four high schools has unique needs, yet the description of Measure K spending for each school is nearly the exact same text and pretty vague, at that. How can anyone ensure accountability in spending taxpayer dollars based on "copy and paste" guidelines? Why did they bother hiring four separate architectural firms, if this was the final product?

OUSD has placed a low priority on its current buildings for more than a decade by budgeting a meager two percent on deferred maintenance. The facilities have suffered for it. 

Measure K calls for one percent of General Fund revenues to be applied toward facilities maintenance. Our investment in improvements will be falling apart before we ever even pay off this 30-year debt.

There is a real need for refurbishment and modernization at our high schools. That is undeniable. Unfortunately, there appears to be a disconnect between “needs” and “wants.”

At forums where the grand Master Plans were presented, it was publicly stated that the going-in position was “If money were no object and the sky was the limit, what would you want?”  

Fantastic computer-generated renderings were presented to the "oohs" and "ahs" of parents, faculty and community leaders. These included an Olympic-caliber swimming pool, a professional-level performing arts center, a glass-encased entryway to the administrative offices, a student union like those usually reserved for college campuses, a three-story science building and “creating a country club feel with the tennis courts and aquatics center.” Hold it. Did the presenter say  “country club”? 

The total price for realizing the Taj Mahal plans will be at least $800 million…perhaps as much as $1 billion. The $296 million is merely a down payment.  OUSD intends to float two -- or maybe three -- more bonds to complete the vision.

Send OUSD back to the drawing board by voting “no” on Measure K.

Deborah Pauly is member of the Villa Park City Council.


Guest Editorial:  by Deborah Pauly 

Measure K is not OK

OUSD banks on gullible voters to pass $296 bond