Weaver Union School District voters will be asked to approve a $9 million general obligation bond in November's general election.
Those funds, coupled with $14 million to $16 million in state hardship funding, would be used for modernization projects at Weaver Middle School and other campuses, along with eventual construction of a new elementary school.
"I hope that we have community support to pass it," board President Jennifer Bertuccio said. "We just can't do it without going for the bond; we don't have much of a choice."
District Superintendent John Curry said voters would be charged $30 per $100 of assessed valuation on the Measure W bond issue on the Nov. 6 ballot.
"For the price of one trip to Starbucks per month, the district can revitalize the middle school campus and reduce the overcrowded school sites to prepare for our future," Curry said. "This money will not go to salaries or operating expenses."
Curry said middle school modernization will be first and will be dependent upon when the state releases the funding. Middle school construction is 12 to 18 months away.
Board member Harry Hose believes the public will support the bond measure as they have previous election measures. He said now is a good time to start the project, and that by the time the district gets the funds, they will need it.
Curry said that according to the state, the district is 592 students over capacity. The district's total population, based on a Merced County, study is 13,731 residents. The district on the outskirts of Merced encompasses approximately 125 square miles and educates 2,564 students.
Board member Renee Nelson said she is very excited about getting Weaver schools updated, and that the upgrades have been needed for years
"I think the public will be supportive," Nelson said. "It should have been done a long time ago."
The last Weaver bond was passed in 2006 and enabled the construction of Farmdale Elementary School. In 2000, a bond measure saw Pioneer Elementary School built.
"It's a great investment for the community," Curry said. "For every dollar invested, we will get $3 back. Thirty dollars per $100 of assessed valuation isn't that much."
Bertuccio said education has been hit hard recently, and it's not necessarily the best time for a bond. But if the district doesn't consider the future, it will be harder to educate students.
"We can't put this off," she said.
The combination of funds will be used to modernize Weaver Middle School and eventually build a new school for kindergarten through fifth-grade students, Curry said. The funds will be used to replace portable classrooms, many of them more than 20 years old.
"It's not cost-efficient to repair portables," Curry said. "About 30 percent of all our classrooms are portable, most of them at Weaver Middle and Pioneer schools."
Part of the funds will be used to upgrade educational technology and install new windows, lighting, air conditioning and heating, Curry said.
As part of the bond measure, an oversight committee with no connection to the school will be established. People interested in joining a committee to push for passage of the bond election are being asked to contact board members or district officials.
Board member Karen Wallace said passage of the bond will help the district get much farther along than it would otherwise.
"We have a long 'to-do' list," Wallace said. "This is a prime time to qualify for hardship funding. All school districts are facing aging facilities. I hope residents and homeowners are supportive in that."
While economic times aren't that great, Wallace said, the district always has had tremendous support from the community.
Curry said information from the city of Merced shows that 966 new residences have been approved and are anticipated to be built over the next five years in the Weaver district.
The district is working with Caldwell, Flores and Winters, an Emeryville-based consulting firm that helped with the 2006 bond measure. Consultants polled district residents recently and found they were favorable to the bond measure, Curry said.
Board members voted 4-0 on July 11 to proceed with the bond election. That action followed meetings with parents and school staff to gauge public support.
Reporter Doane Yawger can be reached at (209) 385-2407 or email@example.com.