Measure A is a proposed bond measure that will allow voters within the Wasco Union High School District boundary the opportunity to vote YES (to approve) or NO (to not approve) the sale of $38.9 million of bonds to fund 1) a NEW Gymnasium and 2) renovations to the existing Gymnasium at Wasco Union High School.
Measure A is scheduled for the next Presidential Primary Election on Tuesday, March 3rd, 2020.
Measure A (2020) vs Measure E (2018)
Measure A follows the District's last bond measure in 2018 (Measure E) that narrowly missed generating the 55% voter approval required to pass. Measure E only generated 54.6% voter approval and the District believes the lack of enough support was due primarily to uncertainty about the need for a new swimming pool. After much discussion with community members and consideration by the Board of Trustees, the District determined it's best course of action was to reduce the scope of the next bond measure to ONLY include funding for a NEW Gymnasium and renovation of the existing Gymnasium at Wasco Union High School.
A new swimming pool is still needed as the existing community pool is outdated, undersized, and cannot be renovated to today's standards of competitive swimming, diving, and water polo. The community pool may soon require more upkeep than the Wasco Recreation and Parks District can afford and a high school pool is something the District may pursue at a later date (after securing funding for a NEW Gymnasium and renovating the existing Gymnasium) along with other existing facility needs.
Measure A Informational Meetings (January 14th and February 11th, 2020)
For more information and an opportunity to ask questions, the community is invited to attend one or both of the scheduled "Town Hall" Informational Meetings in advance of Election Day (March 3rd, 2020). The Informational Meetings are scheduled for:
Tuesday, January 14th (6:00 - 8:00 pm) in the Wasco Union High School Cafeteria
Tuesday, February 11th (6:00 - 8:00 pm) in the Wasco Union High School Cafeteria
Measure A will cost the taxpayer about $30 per $100,000 of assessed property value (also known as “Assessed Value” or AV) for the next 30 years.
So, for a typical residential property in Wasco with an AV of $100,000, the property tax payer would see their annual property tax increase by about $30. This amounts to a TOTAL COST of about $900 spread out over 30 years.
While taxes are seldom fun to pay, please consider the annual contribution of $30 per $100,000 AV (or $2.50 a month) that will allow for about $39 million in facility improvements for Wasco High, including a NEW Gymnasium and renovating the existing Gymnasium. These capital improvements will benefit the students AND community of Wasco for many generations to come.
Simply double this amount for a $200,000 AV property, split it in half for a $50,000 AV property, or multiply by 10 for a $1,000,000 AV property.
Also, it is important to know that AV is usually less than retail value, or the price a property will sell for on the market. You can look up the Assessed Value (AV) of any property here:
Quick tax cost calculation:
(Assessed Value (AV) of property / $100,000) X $30 = cost added to annual property tax
$127,000 AV / $100,000 = 1.27
1.27 X $30 = $38.10
About $38 increase to annual property tax bill
$38.10 X 30 years = $1,143 TOTAL tax cost over 30 years
Some in the community have shared their concerns about too many school bonds and too many taxes.....and looking at your property tax statement can be overwhelming and confusing. There are several abbreviations and itemized accounts and many that have the name WASCO (as in schools) attached to them. The following is intended to clarify a few points about your tax bill:
1. Once a Bond Measure passes, the bonds are sold to investors on the open market, but usually not all at once. So a single bond may have multiple entries on a tax bill. For example, Wasco High has only ONE existing bond (Measure C) from 2008, but it shows up as three lines (known as “issuances” or "series"):
WASCO HIGH 2008-B
WASCO HIGH 08 REF
WASCO HIGH 2008C
If you look at the amounts for these, you will notice that the TOTAL amount does not exceed the $30 per $100,000 of Assessed Value (AV) of the property. This is only from ONE bond in 2008, not 3 separate bonds. Measure C bonds were sold at 3 different points in time (issuances), which leads to the 3 different entries on your tax bill.
2. Bond Measures are limited to only 1.25% TOTAL Assessed Value (AV) of ALL property in a district (called Bonding Capacity; this is increased to 2.5% for Unified School Districts). That means, once you reach that 1.25% limit, the District can not keep selling bonds (even if voters have approved them) that exceed that limit. The only thing that increases Bonding Capacity is paying down the existing bonds and/or waiting for Assessed Value (AV) of the District to increase. Wasco High still has Bonding Capacity remaining that would allow for the sale of Measure A bonds now and in the near future.
3. Everyone's tax bill is a little different. Deciphering your tax bill may take a little work and research on the Kern Elections website, but here is a bit of school bond history for property owners within the Wasco community:
2001 - Measure F (Wasco Elementary School District)
2002 - Measure G (Kern Community College District)
2008 - Measure C (Wasco Union High School District)
2016 - Measure J (Kern Community College District)
2016 - Measure D (Wasco Elementary School District)
2016 - Measure E (Wasco Elementary School District)
So, it appears that most in Wasco are currently paying on 6 school bonds, but only 1 from the Wasco Union High School District. Yes, there are other assessments on your tax bill (Kern Waste Mgmt, Vector Control District, etc...), but Wasco High currently has the SMALLEST "voter approved" amount on the current tax bill. This would look different to a resident of Lost Hills or the Maple School District as they would NOT have any Wasco Elementary bond measures on their property tax bill.
If Measure A passes, Wasco High would be at the top end of their Bonding Capacity and would not be able to secure another bond for many years (until AV grows and current bonds are paid down).
Why wasn’t a Gym built with the last High School Bond (Measure C, 2008)?
This is a good question and one that needs clarification in the community. The Wasco Union High School District and the voters of Wasco have approved only 2 bonds in the 105 year history of the school district; one was passed in 1915 for $45,000 to build the first Main Building of the High School and the next was not passed until 2008, known as Measure C for $33.5 million.
In 2004, after building and opening Independence High in 1996 (without any bond funding), an extensive Facilities Master Plan was developed that planned for the expansion and modernization of what was a dated and aging high school district. Most buildings in the district were constructed from the 1920s through the 1950s, making the average age of buildings about 70 years old by the early 2000s. In 2008, Wasco voters approved Measure C, a $33.5 million bond which added $30 per $100,000 of Assessed Value (AV) to their annual property tax. This bond measure was the beginning of a major expansion and modernization effort to build the district to support about 2,200 students. The current population (2020) is about 1,865 students.
As part of the district’s Facilities Master Plan, a new Gymnasium was originally part of the intended Measure C project list. However, the Gymnasium was REMOVED from the list prior to Measure C going to the voters in 2008. The reason for removal had to do with garnering the support of the Kern Taxpayers Association (representing the largest taxpayers in the District), who requested the district prioritize the expansion and modernization of classrooms and infrastructure first, before improving so much of the athletic facilities of the district.
With added support from state matching facilities funding and district funds paying for “soft costs” (planning, fees, approvals, etc…), Measure C funds contributed to the expansion and modernization of the following projects:
With the completion of Phase VII in 2020, Measure C bond funds are now exhausted and will have supported a major series of expansion and modernization efforts over the last 12 years. While the improvements to the district through Phase VII will greatly enhance the education program and will support the future student population for many decades to come, the original work and vision of the Facilities Master Plan is not complete.
On March 3rd, voters will again decide the future expansion and modernization of the Wasco Union High School District by their vote on Measure A, a $38.9 million bond to continue expansion and modernization efforts to support future generations at Wasco High. With the successful completion of projects funded by the last bond measure, the Kern Taxpayers Association now supports the construction of a new Gymnasium at Wasco High as described in Measure A (see link below):
LINK COMING SOON
Approval of Measure A will allow the district to continue efforts to expand and modernize the campus for future generations, including (as a priority) the addition of a NEW Gymnasium that will support a student population up to 2,200 students.
Why didn't Wasco High install an All-Weather Track (in the past OR as a part of Measure A)?
Recently, a few questions have surfaced about an all-weather track at Wasco High. Some of the questions connect to a sense of frustration about the general idea that Wasco High once planned to install an all-weather track; this occurred nearly 20 years ago when David Gaeta was the track coach at Wasco High. Other questions have come forth about why a new track was not part of the Measure A proposal. The following explanations are intended to shed light on both of those areas.
It is true that Wasco High investigated and even went so far as applying for grant funding to install an all-weather track. During the 2002-2003 school year, a campaign began to raise funds for an all-weather track (estimated cost was about $350,000 at the time). Wasco High received a $100,000 grant award which required the district to match the $100,000 with District funds; also, about 50 community members responded to the call for support by donating roughly $8,700 towards the cause. Over the next 2 years, donations and grant funds fell short of the target and unforeseen financial burdens caused the Board of Trustees to rescind their original approval of installing an all-weather track. The decision was made to only realign the track and make some minor improvements, including a concrete infield curb and proper grading to improve drainage. The grant award was returned and donors were given the option to redirect their contribution to the Track Realignment Project or have their donation returned. Many opted to redirect their donation to the new project and all donations were either returned to the donor or redirected to the Track Realignment Project.
As for current day conversation, the request for an all-weather track has simply been absent from any planning conversation or dialogue with the community (with the exception of recent weeks). Over the last 10 years, there have been multiple meetings related to facility improvements, athletic programs, LCAP stakeholder engagement, academics, and parent involvement. Many suggestions have been brought forth and made known to school officials, some of which have been implemented (School Resource Officer, Career Center, improvements to existing gymnasium, and more food choices in the Cafeteria). Over the last 10 years, an all-weather track has not been identified as a need in the district, either by board members, school officials, or the community. Certainly, it is fair to believe that some in the community may have been upset by the change in direction many years ago and, up to this point, have remained silent on the matter. Now that this topic has resurfaced, Wasco High will certainly reexamine the need, cost, and benefit of an all-weather track as a potential future project.
As for Measure A, the project list was already established based on the restrictions imposed by Prop 39. In order to have a Prop 39 bond measure on the ballot (like Measure A), certain requirements are imposed. One such requirement is that a specific set of projects be identified; the Measure A project list includes a gym and the continued modernization of buildings because those projects were identified as the highest priority of improvements needed in the district.
As for future projects, Wasco High has discussed the need for improvements made to the football field and long jump runway / sand pit on the north side of the field. Specifically, the close proximity of the long jump runway and sand pit to the field pose a danger to football and soccer athletes that may run out of bounds at high speed. As Wasco High continues to plan for future improvements in this area, the inclusion of improvements to the track should be included in the conversation.
The District would also like to encourage and invite the community to the next LCAP stakeholder engagement meeting to bring these requests and suggestions forward to school officials. The LCAP stakeholder engagement process is designed to allow all stakeholders, including community members, to provide input as to how the District should prioritize and direct funding to increase or improve services for students. The next LCAP stakeholder engagement meeting will be scheduled in late January or early February 2020 and will be advertised on the marquee on the corner of 7th Street and Palm Avenue.
Why does Wasco High need a new Gymnasium anyway...(don't they already have one)?
Regarding the upcoming bond measure proposed, some may be wondering why Wasco High even needs a new gymnasium in the first place. After all, most Wasco High alumni recall the existing gym and may have fond memories of basketball, volleyball, wrestling or the ever-spirited rallies held there. As one might reminisce over the “good ol’ days”, the following issues are driving the need for a new gymnasium at Wasco High.
Simply stated, the current student body has outgrown the current gymnasium. The Wasco High student population is currently 1,750 students and recent expansion and modernization efforts have increased the student capacity to about 2,200 students for most areas of Wasco High. However, the existing gymnasium has a student capacity of about 950 students and many students stand on the floor after the bleachers have filled to capacity. During a typical Spirit Rally, over 500 students do NOT attend simply because the gym can not accommodate everyone. The real concern is for the students that actually WANT to attend but don’t due to the crowded conditions and the need to jostle through the crowd just to find a place to stand. A new gym will hold about 2,200 students and accommodate not only the entire student body, but also multiple simultaneous PE classes and the most attended athletic events.
In addition to the lack of space, the gymnasium is just OLD. Originally constructed in 1931, portions were demolished and rebuilt or added through the mid to late 1940s. All in all, the gym is about 80 years old with some portions dating closer to 90 years old! With age comes a tremendous burden of upkeep and maintenance, especially when it comes to locker rooms and restrooms. A new gymnasium would provide an opportunity to update electrical and plumbing infrastructure, some of the more expensive parts of renovation and modernization. To stretch available funding to its greatest capacity, the existing locker rooms would be renovated to classrooms or exercise rooms, saving the costly upgrades of renovating old plumbing. The new gym would provide an updated facility and the old gym would still be able to provide a secondary practice facility and extra space for multiple PE classes and athletic practices.
As for student activities, Wasco High can no longer assemble the entire student body in any one facility besides the outdoor stadium bleachers. Even the beloved Auditorium no longer seats every student at Wasco High. This poses a real challenge for Pep Rallies; as many remember, Wasco High Rallies are known throughout the county (and maybe state) as the best around. School spirit is the cornerstone of a positive and healthy school climate and that history is handed down year over year to the incoming students who learn what it means to be a Wasco Tiger. Unfortunately, some students are being left out of this legendary history simply because there is not enough room in the gym. A new gym will accommodate the entire student body for Pep Rallies or any other event that requires everyone to attend.
Focusing on athletics, more gym space means more teams can practice at the same time. During Volleyball season, 3 teams (Frosh, JV, and Varsity) compete for space to hold their practices after school. Basketball season is worse as the same problem exists for boys AND girls. Six teams try to squeeze their practices into a small facility, some even needing to hold practice outdoors or before school or late into the evening just to have enough space. A second gym will allow adequate space for all teams to practice equitably.
Finally, a new gymnasium provides an opportunity for students at Wasco High to experience the quality facilities many students, families, and the community are looking for in a high school. A quality high school with updated facilities is more likely to keep families in Wasco, rather than moving to Bakersfield, a community that often outcompetes rural areas in resources and opportunities. A larger venue will allow Wasco High to be considered when hosting large scale events like Playoffs and Valley Championships. Additionally, the community will benefit with more “gym space” as the Rec programs do not have a gym of their own and often look to the schools to share their facilities. A second gym will allow more opportunities for high school and Rec teams to coexist and have access to practice facilities. In summary, a large capacity and updated gymnasium benefits students and the community as Wasco High grows and maintains quality programs and facilities for many future generations.