The Sonoma Valley Unified School District board is scheduled to vote on the Measure E implementation plan when it meets at 6:30 p.m. today, Tuesday, Sept. 12.
Measure E is the $120 million general obligation bond district voters passed in November 2016.
The measure and the board has been criticized because of the amount of money that’s dedicated to athletics including an all-purpose stadium, a swimming pool and an athletic training center at Sonoma Valley High School.
Local philanthropists Gary and Marcia Nelson have been running ads in the Index-Tribune bashing the board for devoting $32 million of the $120 million bond for athletics.
Gary Nelson is one of the investors in Sonoma Media Investments, the company that owns the Index-Tribune.
In the ad, the Nelsons say, “we have become deeply alarmed that the Board’s Trustees are actually proposing to spend a disproportionate amount of the bond money on items that were not featured in their campaign.”
The Nelsons are also urging voters to let the board members know how they feel.
One person close to the board said, “sure 26.6 percent is going to athletics … but that means more than 73 percent isn’t going to athletics.”
In a rebuttal in last Friday’s Index-Tribune, district Superintendent Chuck Young said, “Contrary to the paid ad that appears in today’s and two previous issues of the Sonoma Index-Tribune, athletic expenditures (26 percent of all Measure E projects) are meeting the needs of our students and our community, even though some nearby homeowners, and their spokespeople are angry at this outcome. Keep in mind that Measure E is the follow up to Measure H which provided zero funding to athletic facilities. Our fields, locker rooms, and lack of a swimming pool continue to impact our students on a daily basis and in a negative way.”
Among some of the big-ticket items that aren’t athletic related include a new multi-use room ($4.9 million) and new kindergarten ($2.4 million) at El Verano; multi-purpose room improvements ($3.7 million) at Prestwood; a new multi-use room ($5.1 million) at Sassarini; library improvements ($1.5 million), ag farm improvements ($1.1 million), career and technical education ($3.5 million), and the science win modernization ($5.9 million) at the high school; new classrooms $4.9 million) at the Sonoma Charter School; and new administration/classrooms ($4.5 million) and new multi-use facility ($2.9 million) at Woodland Star Charter School.
The board has scheduled bond sales for this fall, again in 2020 and 2023. Originally, the district was looking at a fourth sale in 2026, but decided to compress it into three because projects in the 2026 sale would cost 50 percent more than they would now.
The board will also take action on accepting the unaudited actuals and a report on the micro-grid project at the high school.
The meeting will be held at 6:30 p.m. at the Community Meeting Room, 177 First St. W., in Sonoma.
Email Bill at firstname.lastname@example.org.