Bond Measure Frequently Asked Questions
How are schools in Hillsborough City School District (HCSD) performing?
HCSD schools have adapted to changing and challenging circumstances the past two years in order to continue providing a quality education to local students. During the pandemic, our schools were one of the first to return to in-person education, and we were one of the only school districts to offer in-person instruction for a full school day and week. Our students continue the long Hillsborough legacy of performance as one of the top-scoring school districts on the state standardized tests. Our success is rooted in our dedicated teachers, staff, and parents’ commitment to nurturing children socially, emotionally and academically. High-achieving schools improve the quality of life in our community and protect the property value of our homes.
What is the current state of our classrooms, labs and school facilities?
We’re proud of the high quality of education in Hillsborough schools, but most of HCSD schools are over 60 years old and need repairs and upgrades to meet modern academic and safety standards. Currently, the outdated classrooms and facilities are costly and inefficient to operate. Additionally, updates are needed to meet current earthquake and fire safety standards to ensure the safety of our students as well as to modernize our schools so they support science, technology, engineering, arts and math education.
Our district maintenance team works hard to take care of our aging classrooms and school facilities by keeping up with minor repairs and maintenance. Unfortunately, significant upgrades and improvements needed at 50-year-old schools are beyond what can be accomplished by our maintenance team and funded by our regular maintenance budget. The State of California provides very limited funding for school improvements and most state funding requires local matching funds.
What are the options for repairing and upgrading aging local school facilities?
Our District completed a comprehensive Facilities Master Plan to determine priority improvements to our schools and develop a plan to provide students with the modern learning environment they need to be successful students and for future 21st-century careers. In order to keep pace with academic standards and keep local students safe, on February 16, 2022, the HCSD School Board unanimously voted to place a local school improvement bond measure on the June 2022 ballot. The measure could generate up to $140 million to repair and improve local schools and would cost about 3¢ per $100 of a property’s assessed value (not market value) while bonds are outstanding.
If approved by 55% of local voters, this measure would:
- Upgrade classrooms for science, technology, engineering, arts and math instruction
- Repair and upgrade deteriorating roofs, plumbing, electrical, heating and cooling systems
- Improve classroom computers and technology
- Upgrade schools to meet current earthquake and fire safety standards
- Replace aging portables with permanent classrooms
- Install solar panels to reduce utility costs and save money for classroom programs
Does the State provide funding for school improvements?
No, the State does not provide dedicated funding for school facility improvements. Our district maintenance team works hard to take care of our aging classrooms and school facilities by keeping up with minor repairs and maintenance. Unfortunately, significant upgrades and improvements needed at 60-year-old schools are beyond what can be accomplished by our maintenance team or funded by our regular maintenance budget. The very limited state funding for facility upgrades requires local matching funds usually provided by a local school improvement measure.
Is this the right economic time to consider an investment in our school facilities?
It has been almost 20 years since HCSD last passed a bond measure to improve local schools. Waiting will likely make these repairs more expensive to complete and will mean local students must wait years for urgent upgrades for safety and improvements needed to support quality academic instruction. A bond measure will provide a dedicated source of funding for facility improvements without taking money away from classroom instruction. In addition, interest rates are at all-time lows and now is the time to invest in our schools at the lowest cost possible to taxpayers. HCSD recently conducted a survey of local residents which indicated strong (65%) support for a proposed bond measure, even while acknowledging the current economic challenges experienced by some local residents.
Would fiscal accountability protections be included?
Yes, the school improvement bond measure would include mandatory fiscal accountability, including:
- All funds would stay local to support HCSD students and could not be taken by the State
- No money could be used for administrators’ salaries or benefits
- Citizens’ oversight, independent audits and a detailed project list would be required to ensure funds are spent as promised
Could the State take away funding from a measure?
No. All funds generated from a school improvement bond measure would stay local to support Hillsborough schools. The State would not be able to take any funds.
How much would a potential measure cost?
If approved by local voters, the measure will generate up to $140 million to upgrade local schools and will cost about 3¢ per $100 of a property’s assessed value (not market value) per year.
What is the difference between assessed value and market value?
The cost of bond measures is based on the assessed value of properties. The assessed value of a property is based on the original purchase price and may not increase by more than 2% a year while the market value tends to grow at a much faster rate based on market conditions. Thus, the assessed value is usually much lower than the market value, especially if a property was purchased long ago at a much lower price than it could be purchased for today. It is this lower assessed value upon which the cost of a bond measure is based.
When will the potential school improvement bond measure appear on the ballot?
The School improvement bond measure will be on the June 7, 2022 ballot.
How can I be sure funds from a potential school improvement measure will be spent properly?
An independent citizens’ oversight committee comprised of local residents must review the use of all funds from a potential school improvement bond measure and report their findings to the public each year. Annual independent audits of all bond funds are mandatory.
May funds from a potential school improvement bond measure be used for administrator salaries and pensions?
No. By law, no funds from a potential school improvement bond measure may be used for operating expenses, including administrator salaries and pensions. Funds may only be used to repair and upgrade local school facilities.
I don’t have children attending local schools. How does this impact me?
Whether or not you have school-age children, the quality of local schools impacts the quality of life in a community and impacts local home values. Academic research has shown that good local schools create demand for homes and help keep property values strong.
Who gets to vote on a potential school improvement bond measure? How many votes are needed to win?
All registered voters residing within HCSD are eligible to vote on the potential school improvement bond measure. To be approved, a bond measure requires “yes” votes from 55% of the votes cast on the measure.
How can I register to vote or learn more about voting?
You can register to vote at www.registertovote.ca.gov. To find out more about voting in this election, please contact the San Mateo County Registrar of Voters at (650) 312-5222 or visit www.smcacre.org/elections.
How can I find out more?
To share your opinions, priorities, or to ask questions, please contact Superintendent Louann Carlomagno.