Wednesday, July 16, 2008

LTUSD bond goes down

unedited June Tahoe Mt. News

By Kathryn Reed

A is for almost.
Lake Tahoe Unified School District board member Larry Green summed it up best, “It seems more like a wake.”
Somber was the atmosphere at LTUSD board member Wendy David and LTCC board member Kerry David’s house election night. Early returns on June 3 told the story – the $84 million school facilities bond measure was not going to pass.
“Disappointing” was the word of the night.
People were still “partying”, if you could call it that, at 11pm. The county Elections Department didn’t post the results until 12:37am. With all 20 precincts reporting, 48.51 percent voted no for Measure A, while 51.49 percent voted yes. It needed 55 percent of the voters to say yes to pass.
Superintendent Jim Tarwater stayed barely long enough to hear happy birthday sung to him. He turned 64 the next day.
“I don’t think people have the confidence in the school district to do what they say they are going to do,” said Dave Kurtzman, semi-retired Realtor and school board member from 1983-99. “They confuse this with Measure S and redevelopment, which having nothing to with the school district.”
“What next?” was a common topic. The board had a special meeting June 6, but press times prevented coverage of it.
The district has secured more than $15 million in grants. One is an overcrowding grant that would eliminate the bulk of the portables. Another is for the Green Academy at South Tahoe High School. The $4.5 million grant is for a digital media arts center at Gardner Mountain.
The string attached to those dollars is the district must match them. The bond was the match. The state budget has no bearing on whether the district gets the money.
STHS teacher Bob Grant isn’t giving up. Beth Delacour, speaking for herself and not as the district’s human resource officer, and Grant said maybe a major company will be a sponsor of sorts. Toyota could have naming rights to the auto building, Pixar on the digital structure.
Grant believes if the district could buy time if it can make progress in securing matching dollars this summer. Otherwise the money will be distributed to other districts.
Some version of the bond could be on the November ballot.
Board President Sue Novasel said, “We need to regroup. It’s always been about the kids.” She shakes her head, remembering how in the 1990s the community passed two bonds with more than 80 percent of the vote. In her 30 plus years here she doesn’t remember a general obligation school bond failing.
Some wonder if the vote is one of no confidence for the district, or a sign of a dismal economy and people not wanting to tax themselves, or if it’s a bigger message.
“I told (my husband) Chris if this doesn’t pass, I question where we are living,” said Christina Proctor, who is the spokeswoman for Lake Tahoe Community College. Their children are 6 and 7. “For the community to survive, you’ve got to have families.”

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