Education

Clovis Unified to ask district voters for a $408 million bond. Will voters go for it?

The Clovis Unified School District on Wednesday night unanimously approved a resolution to put a $408 million bond on the March 2020 ballot to upgrade classrooms and buildings.

No community members commented on the issue Wednesday night.

Trustee Ginny Hovsepian said bonds have made significant contributions to Clovis schools over the years.

“All of our schools are nice now because of past bonds,” she said. “It’s our turn to do that type of thing for the future.”

Trustee Steve Fogg said he doesn’t like paying taxes when he doesn’t know where his money goes but said he supports the bond because he believes Clovis Unified manages its money well.

“I certainly will make every effort I can to make sure this money is spent well, (that) it’s something we can be proud of because that is not something that is common in our state,” he said.

In an email, Clovis Unified Superintendent Elimear O’Farrell said 30 of the district’s 50 schools were at least 25 years old.

A recent six-month facilities review concluded the district needs $408 million for everything from repairs and maintenance to new buildings and classrooms to manage future enrollment, school officials said.

Clovis Unified officials would also fix or improve leaking roofs, electrical wiring, fire safety doors and smoke alarms throughout the district. Classrooms would be updated to accommodate technical career programs.

The money also would help reduce classroom overcrowding, officials said. The school district’s total enrollment for the current school year is just over 43,500, according to Kelly Avants, spokeswoman for Clovis Unified.

If approved, the current rate for the local property levies would increase by $25 per $100,000 of assessed value, according to the district.

Avants said the current rate for the local property levies is around $155. The repayment period for the bond would be 25 years.

O’Farrell said recent polling data suggested Clovis residents support the bond proposal.

In 2012, more than 65% of Clovis voters approved a $298 million measure, known as Measure A, for maintenance and upgrades in the district’s aging facilities. Measure A funding allowed the district to complete only the first phase of upgrades.

Yesenia Amaro covers immigration and diverse communities for The Fresno Bee. She previously worked for the Phnom Penh Post in Cambodia and the Las Vegas Review-Journal in Nevada. She recently received the 2018 Journalistic Integrity award from the CACJ. In 2015, she won the Outstanding Journalist of the Year Award from the Nevada Press Association, and also received the Community Service Award.
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