Why Should You Oppose Measure W

($591,500,000 Bond Measure for Sequoia Union High School District)

Why vote “NO” on the district’s request for yet another resident tax in the form of a $591.5 million bond? Because this is an unnecessary and unfair tax promoted by a school district lacking serious fiscal stewardship.

It’s important to understand that by law, bond money can only be used for capital projects (=buildings). Thus, none of the money from this bond measure can be used for teachers or academic programs.

Since 1996, voters in the Sequoia Union High School District have approved five bond measures totaling $633 million.

Most recently, the district asked voters for $265 million for “safety and building upgrades”, based on a 20% increase in student enrollment.

But this enrollment projection never materialized, yet all the $265 million was spent!

Now, they are back, asking you for another $591.5 million. So cumulatively that’s $1.224 BILLION in bond money, all for buildings just for this high school district.

Oh, and at the August 3, 2022 school board meeting, they said they might seek another bond in a few years.

So, what’s the plan for all this money? There isn’t one yet. There is a $1.3 billion wish list of potential projects, but the bond measure itself says they are in the process of conducting a “Facilities Master Planning Process” to “identify the upgrades needed”.

One of the main priorities discussed at the August 3rd school board meeting was air conditioning. Nothing wrong with A/C (even though Redwood City’s slogan is “Climate Best by Government Test”, students aren’t in school most of the hottest months, and other districts don’t have A/C). The question is one of priority.

Since there aren’t unlimited resources, is any at the school board asking whether it would be better to invest in teachers vs. A/C (or buildings in general)?

Asking taxpayers for money that can only be used for buildings before there is a specific plan and budget tied to key priorities is fiscally irresponsible.

But beyond the fact that this tax is fiscally irresponsible and wasteful, it is problematic for other reasons.

This tax is anti-housing:

  • Tenants would see permanent rent increases as landlords pass along higher taxes.
  • Homeowners, including seniors and those on SSI, would be faced with higher taxes with no possibility for exemption regardless of need. Someone with a $1.5 million assessed value home would pay $210/year for this bond and $360/year for the Redwood City Elementary School District bond (also part of the Nov 8, 2022 ballot). That’s $570/year, increasing 2% annually for decades. Countless thousands in extra taxes which are generally not deductible given 2017 tax law changes.
  • Recent and prospective homebuyers (ironically, perhaps the teachers and someday students) would be disproportionately burdened with the unfair form of taxation inherent with bonds. Thanks to Prop 13, you may be paying twice (or even 20 times) as much as your next-door neighbor to support the same bond.

School bonds, just like mortgages, have to be paid back, in full, plus interest, far exceeding the amount financed. The district estimates the total debt service (tax money from you) will total $1.1 BILLION including principal and interest. So almost half the extra tax money you pay would go to bankers and investors and not to the school.

Working families struggle to pay for gas and groceries with great economic uncertainty ahead. They don’t need to be saddled with this significant tax burden that would last decades.

Send a clear message to the school board that they need to do their homework: carefully prioritize, plan and budget based on clear goals (presumably tied to student outcome). Don’t treat taxpayers like ATMs with no withdrawal limits.

Please oppose this huge, misplaced tax burden on working families.

Vote NO on Measure S!!!



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