Irvine Unified School District
June 2016 School Facilities Improvement Measure
Frequently Asked Questions
Q. How are Irvine schools doing?
A. Irvine Unified School District (IUSD) serves more than 32,000 students, and its schools are among the best in California and the nation. Through its nationally recognized schools, IUSD’s student performance remains well above county, state and national comparisons. In fact, recently released state standardized assessment scores rank IUSD first in the state in math and second in the state for reading for school districts with 25,000 or more students.
Q. How are Irvine schools funded?
A. California is 46th in the nation for school funding. For an economy as large as California’s and as one of our nation’s most populous states, this is deeply troubling information. Our students face a severe funding disadvantage as they prepare for competitive 21st-century colleges and careers. Further compounding the problem is the state’s new funding formula, which has resulted in Irvine being one of the lowest funded school districts in the state and ultimately the nation. To put it in perspective, Irvine receives nearly $5,000 less per student nationally or an average of $160 million less per year than unified school districts nationally. The statewide funding gap per student is more than $1,500, which means Irvine receives an average of $48 million dollars less per year than unified school districts statewide. Here’s how it works: funding for Irvine schools is determined by the state’s Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF), which in 2013 replaced the school finance system that had been in place for more than 40 years. The new funding formula provides increased funding for schools with high concentrations of low income and English language learners. As a result, Irvine Unified ranks at the very bottom in per student funding in Orange County and will remain one of the lowest funded districts in the state and the nation. As such, IUSD’s general fund is not able to support investments in school upgrades without significant cuts to instructional programs.
Q. What challenges do IUSD schools face?
A. More than half of IUSD schools are more than 30 years old and are not equipped for 21st-century learning. While some of our schools have modern classrooms and science labs, others do not. To ensure all students, not just those in newer neighborhoods, develop the needed skills to succeed in the 21st-century economy and have a solid background in science, math and technology, upgrades to our older schools are needed. Modernizing all of our classrooms,science labs and technological infrastructure to the same standard will help sustain outstanding student achievement in our schools by ensuring that all students have equal access to 21st-century instructional technology and learning environments.
Q. What is IUSD’s plan for upgrading aging schools to a consistent and modern standard?
A. IUSD is in the process of utilizing the District’s Comprehensive Facilities Master Plan to prioritize projects to upgrade older schools. This process included a thorough expert assessment of each of our school campuses and input from teachers, principals, parents and students to identify the highest priority needs. Depending on each aging school’s needs, upgrades may include additional classrooms, science labs, dedicated spaces for art and music, and technology infrastructure upgrades. This plan will serve as a guide for upgrading and modernizing aging schools to meet the same standards as new IUSD schools.
Q. What is the plan for funding upgrades to Irvine schools?
A. Given that IUSD receives the lowest level of per student funding in Orange County, IUSD will place a School Facilities Improvement Measure on the June 7, 2016 ballot to create a dedicated funding source for facility improvements at older schools. This measure would protect limited program and instructional funding from potentially expensive facility costs so that the needs at aging schools do not take funds away from instructional programs and teaching. If approved by 55 percent of local voters, this measure would provide a stable and dedicated funding source for upgrading Irvine’s oldest schools to provide all students with access to modern classrooms, science labs and educational facilities. Residents in the newer areas served by newer schools and who already pay Community Facility District (CFD) fees toward school facility construction, will not be impacted or able to vote on the measure.
Q. What projects would this measure fund?
A. Specifically, the School Facilities Improvement Measure would provide locally controlled funds to update and improve Irvine’s older schools, including:
- Providing the facilities and equipment needed for career and technology classes so students are prepared for college and good jobs in fields like science, engineering,technology and skilled trades
- Providing classrooms, science labs and school facilities that meet current safety,technology and academic standards
- Ensuring schools have the classrooms and instructional spaces needed for Irvine's world-class art and music programs
- Improving traffic and safety around schools
- Updating instructional technology in the classroom for improved student learning incore subjects like reading and science, technology, engineering and math (STEM)
- Replacing aging roofs, plumbing, electrical systems and heating and cooling systems
- Ensuring classrooms, labs and other facilities are accessible for students with disabilities
Q. What neighborhoods and schools will be impacted by a School Facilities Improvement Measure?
A. The neighborhoods within the School Facilities Improvement District (SFID) are based on the Elementary/K-8 School Service Areas. If your neighborhood is served by one of the following elementary/K-8 schools you will have the opportunity to vote on this measure. If it is approved,commercial and residential property owners within the SFID boundary would be subject to the cost of the measure. The following schools are in the SFID:
Additionally, the middle schools and high schools that these schools feed into would receive funding for facilities improvements from this measure as well. The middle schools and high schools who would receive this funding are as follows:
|Rancho San Joaquin
Q. What is the rationale for having part of the city vote on this bond and not the entire city?
A. Irvine’s villages and neighborhoods, and the schools that serve them, were built at various points over the past 30 to 40 years. As a result, some neighborhoods are served by schools built in recent years with the latest in learning technology and the classrooms, science labs and other facilities needed to support 21st-century learning. However, more than 50 percent of IUSD schools are more than 30 years old and were not built or equipped to meet the same modern standards. Modernizing classrooms, science labs and technological infrastructure to a similar standard will help support outstanding student achievement by ensuring that all students have equal access to 21st-century instructional technology and learning tools. Property owners in newer neighborhoods are already paying Community Facility District (CFD) fees that go toward the construction of school facilities in their neighborhoods. This bond would specifically benefit the neighborhoods with aging schools that aren’t currently receiving local facilities funding. As a result, IUSD will conduct an election in the areas of the District that are directly impacted by the measure and also stand to directly benefit from the measure.
Q. How much would the potential School Facilities Improvement Measure cost?
A. The measure will cost $29 per $100,000 in assessed value (not to be confused with market value, which is typically much higher). The estimated monthly cost for the typical property owner will be $10.
Q. Is the cost of the measure tax deductible?
A. Yes. The entire cost of the measure is deductible on state and federal income taxes.
Q. Is there a senior exemption?
A. By law, IUSD cannot offer a senior exemption for a bond measure. However, the cost of a bond measure would be based on the assessed value of a property, which is different from market value. The assessed value is often closer to the price of the home when it was last purchased, which will be much lower for those homeowners who have lived in their homes for many years.
Q. How would renters participate in this measure?
A. As is required by law, the direct cost of the measure is limited to property owners within the SFID boundary, which includes owners of condos, apartment buildings, commercial office buildings and other retail and commercial properties. Property owners typically factor the cost of a measure like this into the rents charged to tenants. All registered voters residing within the SFID boundaries, including renters, are eligible to vote on the measure.
Q. Would commercial property owners be exempt from this measure?
A. No. All property owners within the SFID boundary would be subject to the cost of the measure, including business property owners.
Q. What protections help ensure the funds will be spent as promised?
A. The measure requires a clear system of accountability to ensure funds are spent only on voter-approved projects. By law, all money raised by the measure must be used locally only to up grade older schools within the SFID boundary. Funds cannot be taken by the State or used for other purposes. An independent citizens’ oversight committee and annual audits are required to ensure funds are spent properly. None of the funds raised can be used for administrator, teacher or staff salaries or benefits.
Q. How would the Citizens’ Oversight Committee be formed?
A. If the measure is approved by voters, the District would solicit applications from the community to form the oversight committee. By law, the oversight committee must include a member active in a business organization, a member active in a senior citizens’ organization, a member active in bona fide taxpayers’ organization, a member active in the Parent Teacher Student Associations (PTSAs) as well as a member who is a parent or guardian of a child enrolled in the District. No employee or official of the District can be appointed to the oversight committee.
Q. Have other school districts run measures in a portion of their district to fund targeted needs at specific schools?
A. Yes, this approach has been used by other Orange County school districts in recent years,including Tustin USD. The law allowing school districts to create School Facility Improvement Districts (SFIDs) was enacted in 1998. Since then 54 school districts around California have formed SFIDs to fund school facility improvements within a specific geographic area.
Q. How would these upgrades support quality 21st-century education?
A. This measure would help update classrooms, science labs and computer learning technology to ensure our students learn the critical skills needed for success in college and the 21st-century workforce. Science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) are essential components of education today. Our schools also offer a wide variety of career technical training to prepare students for careers, which require specialized labs, classrooms and technology.
Q. Could funds from a School Facilities Improvement Measure be taken by the State?
A. No. By law, all funds from this measure would stay locally to fund the specific school improvements identified in the measure at the schools within the SFID area.
Q. If I don’t have children in IUSD schools, how does the School Facilities Improvement Measure impact me?
A. Whether or not you have children in school, protecting the quality of our local schools, the quality of life in our community and the value of our homes is a wise investment. Local schools help make Irvine a great place to live and create demand for Irvine homes. Bringing all of Irvine’s schools, including those built thirty or more years ago, up to a similar standard will help maintain the outstanding quality of education for which Irvine schools are known and keep property values strong.
Q. If there is a statewide school bond on the ballot later this year, do we still need this local measure?
A. In its current form, the statewide school bond measure proposed for the November ballot would not address the needs of IUSD’s aging schools. If approved, the state’s proposed measure would provide very limited matching dollars for which IUSD could compete. IUSD’s measure is specifically designed to meet the needs of our local schools with locally controlled funding for new science labs, modernized classrooms, dedicated music spaces and technology upgrades in older IUSD schools. Passage of IUSD’s local School Facility Improvement Measure would help IUSD qualify for matching funding from a state measure. If IUSD does qualify for limited state funding, the scope of facility upgrades in IUSD may be expanded or the cost to local taxpayers for facility upgrades may be reduced. Both measures would provide critical funds for important but different needs and should not be viewed as competing or duplicative measures but rather complimentary measures that can provide significant benefit to our students.
Q. Will this measure help the District qualify for state matching funds?
A. Yes. Passing this measure will provide the local match funds that will maximize IUSD’s chances for qualifying for state matching funds as they become available.
Q. How does the District determine which schools will receive upgrades and when?
A. Since 2011, IUSD has worked to develop, and keep updated, a school facilities needs analysis and Comprehensive Facilities Master Plan (FMP). If voters approve a School Facilities Improvement Measure and funding is available for upgrades, the Board of Education will use the priorities projects outlined in the FMP to determine the priority and order in which these projects will be completed. This process will be monitored by a citizens’ oversight committee to ensure that all funds are spent appropriately.
Q. When will upgrades to local schools begin?
A. If the measure is approved by voters in June, the first series of bonds would be sold later this year and school improvement planning and design will begin in 2017. To avoid disruption across the district, work will be phased over time, with the most urgent needs identified in the FMP being addressed first.
Q. What other sources of funding exist to upgrade aging schools in Irvine?
A. IUSD is already maximizing developer fees and other sources for school facility improvements. The state provides very limited funding for school facility improvements and most of those funds require local matching dollars provided by a locally approved bond measure. Given that IUSD receives the lowest level of per student funding in Orange County, IUSD’s operating budget cannot support these facilities improvements without deep and sustained cuts to instructional programs and teaching. Passage of a local School Facilities Improvement Measure will help IUSD qualify for state matching funds as they become available.
Q. Can’t the Irvine Public Schools Foundation (IPSF) pay for facilities upgrades?
A. While IPSF raises important funding for educational programs and services in local schools, the amount raised is a small fraction of what is needed to bring IUSD’s older schools up to a similar standard as newer schools.
Q. How does the School Facilities Improvement Measure impact newer neighborhoods already served by newer schools?
A. The School Facilities Improvement Measure will benefit all IUSD schools by ensuring general funds are allocated to instruction rather than diverting funds to pay for facilities improvements. Bringing all schools up to a similar standard will protect the outstanding quality of education for which Irvine schools are known, which keeps home values strong across the entire district. Most of the high schools and middle schools serving graduates of Irvine’s newest elementary schools will receive significant improvements as a result of this measure and property owners who are already paying CFD fees towards school facility construction will not have to pay for this measure.
Q. How long would the bonds be outstanding?
A. The measure would be limited to no more than 30 years in duration. There are many variables in determining the length of time until they are paid off: the rate of change in local assessed property value in the years to come; the interest rates and state of the bond market at the time each series of bonds is sold; and the various bond structures that may be used in order to maximize funds available for school improvements while minimizing the cost to taxpayers.
Q. When will the measure appear on the ballot?
A. June 7, 2016 ballot. All voters residing within the SFID will be eligible to vote on the measure. To pass, it must be supported by at least 55 percent of those voters who cast a ballot on the measure. As with any election, balloting will be coordinated by the Orange County Registrar of Voters.
Q. What if I have more questions?
A. For more information please visit iusd.org/schoolimprovements or email SFIMinfo@iusd.org
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