Prop. 13 may be to blame for Lemoore voters rejection of Lemoore High's Measure L says district leadership

By Ed Martin, Editor
Prop. 13 may be to blame for Lemoore voters rejection of Lemoore High's Measure L says district leadership

Lemoore High School’s Measure L failed badly at the ballot box on Tuesday as Lemoore area’s voters dealt it a cruel blow, rejecting the $26 million bond measure – meant for new facilities and upgrades – by a 59.24% to 40.75% margin.

The bond measure’s rejection comes only four years after local voters easily passed a $24 million measure for new facilities and upgrades to classrooms and buildings. The local school district continues renovations at the local high school from the previous bond measure.

A total of 1,723 voters said no the measure, while 1,185 voted to approve the school bond.

It wasn’t the only school bond measure to fail. Locally, the Hanford Elementary School District also failed to pass its bond measure, losing 57% to 42%.

California voters also issued an overwhelming “no” vote on Proposition 13, a statewide measure to fund public education facilities, tossing the controversial measure by a 55.4% voted to 44.6% vote.

Lemoore Union High School Superintendent Debbie Muro suggested in a text that there may have been outside factors that colored local voters’ choices. “I believe Prop. 13 caused people to not vote for any tax increases,” she said. “We will continue to seek state funding and grants to make facility improvements.”

Longtime educator and current Lemoore High School District Board Member Lupe Solis suggested that Prop. 13 may have played a role, but there were also other factors. "I think what Debbie mentioned, I agree with. Some of it had to do with Proposition 13," said the former LHS principal and retired Tulare County Assistant Superintendent. "I also don't think that everybody agreed with what was being asked of them. That's my first take."

He added that there were probably many factors as to why the community failed to support Measure L. "Some people thought it was going to be an increase in taxes. Maybe we just didn't message it correctly," he said. "So, we move on and go from here. We would have loved to have it passed."

Tuesday’s results were a striking contrast to four years ago when area voters easily approved the district’s 2016 measure, needing just 55 percent approval for passage. The school measure passed with 63 percent of the vote, continuing a long tradition of voter-approved tax and bond measures supporting the local district.

The winning streak appears to have come to an end with Tuesday’s loss, despite a phone survey done earlier this year that district officials say indicated that voters appeared to approve of the measure, suggesting a 61.8 percent voter preference for the upcoming bond.

So far, the 2016 bond proceeds have paid for the renovation of Tiger Stadium (including new restrooms and snack bars, a locker room facility, and press box), renovation of the school’s pool, and improvements at Jamison High School. A pair of classrooms were added at the school’s agricultural farm, and construction on new tennis courts was expected to begin in December. The old shop areas were converted into engineering classrooms, and the historic main building got a $183,000 paint job.

Work is expected to begin soon on the demolition of the old gym and the home economics building, both located in the heart of the campus. In its place is a proposed classroom project. The school's library will be remodeled, and the district will repave the student parking lot.

While the superintendent blamed Tuesday’s poor showing on Prop. 13, many voters found out about the Measure L barely a few weeks before the election when the local high school district sent out mailers highlighting recent improvements from the previous bond measure and citing the need for an additional bond to continue the improvements.

“Some of our facilities have recently been modernized,” stated Muro in the mailer, “and the results of the work have been great for our students. However, more work needs to be done to provide excellent facilities throughout our district.”

On that note, school officials, over several months, quizzed staff, teachers, parents, and community leaders as to additional needs. The result was a School Facilities Needs Analysis that identified several projects:

  • Modernizing outdated classrooms, restrooms, and school facilities.
  • Modernize and construct facilities for the school’s ag program, including the Ag farm, classrooms, and shop areas.
  • Making safety and security improvements to fire alarms and surveillance cameras.
  • Replacing outdated heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems.
  • Improving student access to computers and modern technology.
  • And like the 2016 bond measure, an independent citizens’ oversight committee will ensure that bond funds are appropriately spent, and according to law, there must be annual audits. None of the bond proceeds may be used to pay teacher or administrative salaries.

Prop. 13 may be to blame for Lemoore voters rejection of Lemoore High's Measure L says district leadership

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