Schools nix note backing Hwy. 12
The Sonoma Valley Unified School District won’t be sending a letter of support for the Highway 12 project to the state.
At Tuesday night’s school board meeting, Superintendent Louann Carlomagno told the board that the district wouldn’t write a letter because it had not received any estimates on how much it would cost the district in lost revenue.
Carlomagno said the district was supportive of the work on Phase 1 of the project “from Verano Avenue to Boyes Boulevard,” and that a number of students and their families use the sidewalks on a regular basis. “The same would be true of the stretch of highway between Boyes Boulevard and Agua Caliente Road,” a memo from Carlomagno says.
The Boyes Boulevard to Agua Caliente stretch was scheduled to be Phase 2 of the sidewalks and streetlights project, but it was halted when a state Supreme Court decision in December dissolved the state’s 400-plus redevelopment agencies.
“With all that being said, we are yet to be able to find any person who is able to tell us of the direct impact the completion of the Highway 12 project will have on this district,” the memo continues.
Carlomagno and Deputy Superintendent Justin Frese checked with county officials and education officials but none could give an estimate on what it could cost the district.
The memo adds, “We also understand that it’s suggested that the long-term benefits of improved public infrastructure along Hwy. 12 will positively impact area property values which in the long run will benefit all local taxing entities including the school district, but we have no data at this time which demonstrates the direct impact to our district.”
Carlomagno pointed out the district recently cut $2.6 million from its budget and will eliminate five school days.
At Tuesday’s meeting, Carlomagno explained, “While we are supportive of infrastructure improvements along the highway, it doesn’t seem to be appropriate to send a letter.”
Boardmember Helen Marsh wondered if sending a letter would impact the outcome or be inconsequential. “We write a lot of letters to public policy people,” she said. “I don’t think it would make a difference.”
The rest of the board followed suit.
When Frese pointed out that it could mean $200,000 to $300,000 a year to the district over the next 20 years, Marsh said, “that’s class-size reduction.”
Boardmember Dan Gustafson, who sits in the Flowery district, said he’s been an advocate of the sidewalks since he moved there 15 years ago. “But we have to make a decision between bad and bad. Is our mission education or highway safety?”
Carlomagno said the district is supportive of the work the Springs Community Alliance has done. “It needs to be done. But we can’t find the impact it’ll have on the school district,” she said.