YUCCA VALLEY — Members of the Yes on Measure C committee supporting a $55.6 million bond measure for local schools shared their plans and asked for support at the Yucca Valley Town Council last week.
The Morongo Unified School District started promoting Measure Cat the beginning of the year.
The bond would pay to renovate and modernize many of the 19 public schools across the Morongo Basin.
Retired principal Vonda Viland told the council that the bond could fund multiple school projects, from repairing air conditioners to building an athletic stadium at Twentynine Palms High School.
“If one looks at it monthly, it is less than $6 per month,” she said. “If we fail to pass this bond, our kids will miss out again.”
Council members listened intently about the woes of the district’s schools. Ultimately, after the presentation, council members voted to receive the report only, opting not to support or oppose the bond measure.
The average age of the 19 schools in the Morongo Unified School District is about 43 years, and some are around 70 years old, MUSD Director of Maintenance and Operations David Daniels told the council.
“Money is put aside, but it is not enough,” Daniels said. “Our budget just doesn’t go that far.”
Measure C will appear on the March 3 ballot for Morongo Basin voters. To pass, it must be approved by 55 percent of votes. It would add about $37 to annual property tax bills for every $100,000 of assessed value over the next 25-30 years.
Mayor Pro Tem Merl Abel, a teacher at Yucca Valley High School, said he has seen far too many times how students attend events at other schools and see modern facilities equipped with the latest in technology. He said they leave feeling “disheartened.”
Five residents spoke up to oppose the bond, saying people cannot afford more taxes.
“I think we need to be more fiscally responsible,” speaker Darrel Pague said. “We’re going to hurt a lot of property owners with more taxes. This state is just taxing us to death.”
Viland said the state provides no money for school districts to renovate schools and the only way to pay for repairs and upgrades is by passing bonds.
She said money from the measure will repair or replace deteriorating roofs and electrical systems, construct classrooms and replace heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems.
“I do want the best for the youth in our community,” Viland said. “If we pass a local bond, it stays local.”
Proponents for the bond said the schools most in need of repairs and renovations include Yucca Mesa, Morongo Valley, Friendly Hills and Landers elementary schools.
Other schools have not had upgrades in more than 30 years, officials said, listing Condor Elementary, La Contenta Middle School and Black Rock and Yucca Valley high schools.
According to Viland, many schools on this list were slated to get renovated with money from Measure O, but the school district had to use the 2005 Measure O bonds to build the new Joshua Tree Elementary School when it was discovered the old school was sitting on an earthquake fault line.