$150 million bond measure approved by Hemet Unified

Hemet Unified board members vote to place measure on November ballot

Photo by Robin Underwood
Board members voted on a $150 million bond measure in order to repair and upgrade HUSD schools.

■ Robin Underwood, Contributed

The Hemet Unified School District has approved of a $150 million school bond measure allowing Hemet residents the opportunity to vote on the proposal this November.
During a special meeting held on July 31, Board Member Rob Davis took the lead in commenting before the official vote, explaining how he was apprehensive on the issue but nevertheless was on board for the measure because of the bond being a tax extension and will not result in higher tax rates.
“Many of our buildings in the district are 50 years old, it’s apparent something does have to be done about that. I’m a local resident and business owner, I wouldn’t want to raise the tax rate by any means, but being that, as it was explained to us, the measure would come to us by means of a tax extension, I’m going to have to use my vote to approve this measure,” said Davis.
The board meeting was a private meeting not open to public discussion and was held at 4:30 p.m. on Tuesday after being rescheduled only days before. The board spent only about 10 – 15 minutes conducting the entire meeting. Following the discussion, seven board members ultimately voted for the bond measure to be considered on the November ballot with none opposed.

Photos by Robin Underwood
Board members (from left to right) Rob Davis, Stacey Bailey, Patrick Searl, and Gene Hikel deliberate during the brief meeting.

The bond has had a great deal of analysis with multiple surveys conducted to test its viability and ratings of approval by FM3, an organization hired to assist in reserving the measure’s spot on this year’s voting agenda.
In 2016, the bond was initially introduced to the board, but was denied in part due to two other school bonds being voted on by the public in that year’s ballots, which raised the tax rate for local residents already. The school board has held multiple public meetings in regards to the measure, but very little has been said by residents in regards to the bond itself. Surveys have been conducted on 681 residents and one resident, Chuck Moore, wrote a letter on his opinion of how the surveys were written, showing a distaste for how the surveys were conducted.
Moore, who holds a BSBA in Business Administration, claimed that when taking the surveys, they were highly biased in favor of the bond and did not hold a neutral tone when asking their questions. He pointed out that surveys should always be designed to seek accurate results.
He went on to explain that the firm FM3 “did not appear to have our bests interests at heart,” claiming that the firm was hired to misrepresent the school bond and what it will really do, citing that the surveys mentioned that the “teachers would get a raise in pay with the bond issue,” and “that is an entirely different issue from what they say they are asking for.”

Photos by Robin Underwood
Board members (from left to right) Vic Scavarda, Megan Haley, and Ross Valenzuela participate in the vote.

HUSD has been open when it comes to explaining the measure and its proposed items for taking action on several concerns including repairs in infrastructure, up-to-date technology and college readiness programs for all students in the district. However, some board members agree that the discussion on the measure amongst voters relies mostly on topics that include safety in general terms. When looking at survey results, safety was an item with the highest approval rating across the board.
Nonetheless, Moore encouraged Hemet residents to ask as many questions about the questions themselves on the surveys conducted mentioning how in his statistics class, students were shown how to rig surveys and to “lie with truth, but bogus, facts.” According to Moore, Hemet residents need to be thoroughly informed before voting on the November ballot.
A third of district classrooms and school facilities are over 40 years old, many of which do not meet 21st century education and technology standards, and require health, safety and handicap accessibility improvements. Even though Hemet resident Moore agrees that the district is in need of a great deal of repairs and renovations, he doesnt think this bond will be what gets it done, stating that the bond has, “too much pork and side issues involved…it is one thing to repair and improve upon an outdated system. However, this bond goes beyond that simple purpose.”

District board members
Following is a list of the 2018 Hemet Unified School District Governing Board members and their district email addresses:
Ross Valenzuela, President, rvalenzuela@hemetusd.org
Megan Haley, Vice President, mhaley@hemetusd.org
Stacey Bailey, sbailey@hemetusd.org
Rob Davis, rdavis@hemetusd.org
Eugene Hikel, ehikel@hemetusd.org
Victor Scavarda, vscavarda@hemetusd.org
Patrick Searl, psearl@hemetusd.org

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