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.

(14) comments

Josh

The condition of our Schools is appalling.

They need to upgrade for sure .

Blayd

If the conditions of the schools are "appalling" it is because of poor budget management. Infrastructure has a cycle of preventive maintenance that should be planned for well in advance. Adding yet more facilities that require maintenance AND utilities just adds more overhead costs that won't be budgeted for.

A "NO" stops this endless spiral of fiduciary irresponsibility.

joetheplumber

I support schools, but what's wrong with an athletic field, why do thy need a "stadium"? School is out of session during the summer months, air conditioners are expensive and unnecessary. Why are they asking for so much, half of this amount will be more than enough. All property owners should pay a fair share of funds for schools, but why don't people with children in school pay a little more, per child, it's "their fair share"

CheRojo

The best thing we can do to help our students is pay teachers better. MUSD loses a lot of good teachers to the lower desert because they pay considerably less than PSUSD or Desert Sands. This bond doesn't allocate any money to teacher salaries, but instead wastes money on buildings and vanity projects.

EDJM

The town of Yucca Valley, town Council should not be giving an opinion one way or another. The Morongo unified school District will do anything to pass this measure. My question is where are the people on yes getting their money to send out expensive flyers. They are trying every trick in the book to try to pass measure C. According to what I'm seeing most of the people are against measure C. The town of Yucca Valley should tell the people that are doing measure C. The town of Yucca Valley should not get involved whatsoever.

EDJM

The town Council did a good job not taking a stand one way or another. In my opinion the school district is not telling the truth and their misleading the voters of this community. Bottom line the voters in this community can no longer afford any more taxes stop with all the taxes.

Mark Simmons

It is my understanding that the MUSD is backed by the 29 Palms Band of Mission Indians. Tortoise Rock Casino. I also agree strenuously, that the proponents of Measure C should have been denied being heard at a town council meeting.Merl Abel, especially should’ve remained silent on this matter as he is/was a teacher within district. How does the Mayor Pro-Tem know what these students’ feelings are? Is he now “Carnac The Mind Reader?” Sounds like a bit of an embellishment to me. NO ON MEASURE C and PROP 13!!

Mark Simmons

Amen EDJM. Amen!

hope

I agree Merl Abel was like the 3rd presenter of the Measure, he obviously stands to benefit. I thought the other Council Members asked legit questions that weren’t answered satisfactorily.

Vote NO on Measure C and Prop 13. It’s time the schools function within their budgets like the rest of us.

I also appreciated the gentle man that corrected the Presenter saying to you it may be one Starbucks to others it’s a Top Ramon meal.

NO on C

BBB

The district needs to be more forthcoming regarding future expenditures. I don't feel asking for a new football stadium for example is a worthy need, as long as the present turf and grandstands are safe for use. It would be an unsound investment, as high school teams in many smaller communities have trouble fielding a team because of FB's head injury issue. The athletic boosters in 29 need to find corporate money for a gleaming new stadium, same for YV . I find the excuse of Measure O taking all the future revenue to build a new EL school in JT very dubious. How much did the new school cost, and how were the payments structured? Taking the word of a retired administrator at face value is silly, the reporter/editor should have checked out the veracity of the statement before running the article. Real estate folks and chamber of commerce types always favor these measures for obvious reasons. If these folks want facilities like LaQuinta and Rancho Mirage, maybe they should have been more ardent in attracting employers to the area that pay higher wages, not fast food and low end retail jobs.

Dadof4

"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."

Hey, didn't most the funding for that come from the Feds? Do I smell Excreta here?

Samson

No to C

Branson Hunter

The newly proposed Measure C tax revenue of 56.6 million is misleading. Exorbitant Interest on the principal of $56.6 million would bring that up to $80 million something. Prop 13 slated to pass. This will mean new taxes, and given the principal on this means more, and more, and more, taxes. It's time to focus on academic basis. Keeping up with the Joneses or with the Banning School District school doesn't sit well with Morongo Basin property owners. However we will soon find out if that's true.

Branson Hunter

Even though we are still paying for the last school bond, in a few years we'll never know that the bonds are stacking up because they become merged -- that's how the law is written.

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