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Editorial: Vote Yes on Measure G, Livermore's $450 million school bond

'LVJUSD schools must have the funding to continue evolving in the 2020s and beyond'
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Residents in Livermore – like their neighbors in Pleasanton and Sunol – find themselves with the opportunity to decide the future of their school facilities for decades to come on their Nov. 8 ballots. 

Livermore Valley voters will vote Yes or No on Measure G, a proposed $450 million bond, with approval required from 55% of ballots. As we debate bond measures internally, a common thread connects our conclusions.

First and foremost, the measures must aim to address demonstrated facility needs in the district. The set of projects should be imperative to complete for the education and safety of students in the near- and long-term -- because these bond measures come with major property tax obligations that have real impacts on homeowners in their communities, especially in the current economic climate.

Second, it must be accepted that there is effectively no other option to accomplish any high-dollar school building project, let alone a group of them around a district, than a local bond measure given how school funding works in the state of California. And finally, we must trust that the district has the staff and policy framework in place to advance the projects efficiently and responsibly while remaining subject to true citizen oversight.

After consideration of pro and con arguments in the voter guides and comments from the associated Yes and No groups and other stakeholders, we see this bond measure as hitting those vital marks. We recommend Yes on Measure G in Livermore.

This fall, voters face the question of approving a $450 million bond, Measure G, to advance key projects from Phase 2 of the Facilities Master Plan for the Livermore Valley Joint Unified School District. It aims to build on the work completed in Phase 1 under the $245 million bond in 2016.

Centering around five large-scale school renovations, in addition to ongoing infrastructure upgrades districtwide, Measure G would cost approximately $60 per $100,000 of assessed valuation for properties within LVJUSD boundaries annually for the duration of the bond debt repayment period.

We do note, with derision, that the ballot question casts the cost as "approximately 6 cents per $100" -- perhaps a way to save on the word count, or a cynical attempt to make the amounts look more favorable at a glance. Either way, no Livermore property taxpayer looks at a bill with hundreds of dollars in valuation; this rate should be on the ballot in a more recognizable, more realistic presentation. 

But no matter how the tax rate is listed, the bond capacity of $450 million is clearly a significant chunk that would go a long way toward bringing more and more Livermore facilities into the 21st century.

And necessary, we might add.

The Measure G project list is ambitious at a glance, but it wisely remains grounded in fulfilling actual academic-facility needs of students and staff in Livermore. 

Of course the classroom and administration buildings at Granada High School and the classroom building with student union and courtyard at Livermore High stand out, but the bond would also achieve vital transformations at Marylin Avenue Elementary, Rancho Las Positas Elementary and Junction Avenue TK-8 schools. 

Those are in addition to key improvements to safety, security, technology and classroom furniture districtwide. 

All of these goals are needed to truly enhance the modern student experience in LVJUSD, and like it or not, a school bond measure is the only tangible option available to local districts in California to accomplish even a single necessary campus renovation, let alone five.

Buoying our confidence in Measure G in 2022 is what we've seen from the district in recent years in completing key projects under the 2016 Measure J bond. Just look at the exquisite athletic facilities at Granada and Livermore highs, for example; it's like day and night when compared to neighboring Pleasanton. 

We acknowledge the anti-Measure G arguments put forth by members of the Alameda County Taxpayers' Association and Alameda County Libertarian Party.

It's difficult to view them in any way other than just repeating vague criticisms and claims centered around their main contention -- they seem to just oppose all new tax increases effectively on principle, and will sling any and every argument or allegation at the wall hoping to bolster their biased perspective.

None of them stick with us.

Livermore schools must have the funding to continue evolving in the 2020s and beyond. Vote Yes on Measure G.

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