MEASURE U IS SECOND TRY AT SCHOOL FUNDING | SierraSun.com

MEASURE U IS SECOND TRY AT SCHOOL FUNDING

Kyle Magin
Sierra Sun

When voters head to the polls on Nov. 4 in Nevada and Placer Counties, supporters of the Tahoe Truckee School District are hoping they cast their votes for more than just the presidential ticket.

After a narrow defeat in June, backers of Measure L ” a $93 million capital improvement project for the Truckee schools ” are hoping voters support its current incarnation, Measure U, and breathe new life into the Truckee facilities.

Measure U remains basically unchanged from its predecessor, said Measure U campaign manager Alison Elder.

The 1980s-era portable classrooms outside of Truckee High will be replaced by new, permanent ones. Technological upgrades are planned, as well as updates to the Truckee High library. A new, all-weather track is included, which will get the Truckee High School track team off of Donner Pass Road for practice. Parking will be increased at Truckee Elementary to relieve traffic congestion.

The most important improvement, said John Britto, School District facilities manager, will be safety.

He said detractors from Measure L would focus on what they called the frills ” stadium and technology upgrades. But, he said the infrastructure work which will be done to alleviate safety concerns is a major component of the proposition.

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“Some areas of the elementary school have a snow load as low as 40 pounds per square foot,” Britto said. “In Truckee, the minimum requirement is 150 pounds, and right now we have to pay to get crews on the roof to clear the snow off. These buildings were built at a different time, for a different population.”

Britto said the nearly-60 year-old schools occasionally need to be shut down for fear of structural damage due to snow accumulation.

If U passes on Nov. 4, Britto said the district can begin to address the pressing issues of parking first at the elementary school before getting rid of the school district offices between the elementary and high school to make way for new high school classrooms, including new space for shop and other vocational education classrooms. At the same time, the district can address those structural upgrades to increase the snow-load capacity. In all, Britto estimates about a year is needed to plan the upgrades and that the entire projectÜ including upgrades at the football stadium would take about five years.

Some of those upgrades include the track and making the stadium more handicap-accessible as Elder said it is not currently ADA-handicap compliant.

To ensure U passes, Elder said accurate community education is a key.

“We anticipate a tremendous turnout for our Nov. 4 election,” Elder said. “With solid, accurate information supplied to the community we believe that Measure U will pass.”

She said that although Measure L passed by a majority, it did not pass in Nevada County, leaving it 117 ‘yes’ votes short. It was unfortunate that 435 voters identified as ‘yes’ voters didn’t turn out at that time, Elder said.

The measure would cost taxpayers $13 per $100,000 of assessed property value in the school district. This would mean homeowners would pay $47 to the District until 2025, when 1999’s Measure C would be paid off. At that time, U would cost voters $48 per $100,000 until 2052.

But, Elder added, Truckee voters are paying $34 of the $48 approved for C, due to growing enrollment in the district, increased property values and more homeowners to share the cost of the schools with.

She said there is a possibility U could see a similar effect if Truckee continues to grow.

For now, though, the focus is on Nov. 4 and polls. Passing U is the first step, Elder said.

At that point, residents will be notified of the Education Specification Committee, an organization they can join to advise and work on the bond’s development and implementation.

The committee can accommodate about 25 community members, Elder said.