Colusa Unified nixes 2020 bond plan

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Burchfield Primary School, built in the 1950s, will be the subject of Colusa Unified School District’s community discussions about facility needs and educating students in the 21st century.

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Less than a month ago, Colusa Unified School District officials still considered a school bond measure on the Nov. 3, 2020 general election ballot.

Since then, their perspectives have changed, particularly since Colusa voters – and California voters in general – were uncharacteristically hesitant in the March 3 primary election to approve borrowing money to spend on new school facilities.

“I have serious reservations about spending any money toward a bond when neither one of the bonds we just voted on passed,” said CUSD President Melissa Yerxa-Ortiz.

Proposition 13, a statewide bond measure, failed locally by 73.2 percent (53.3 percent statewide), and Measure C, a Woodland College bond measure, failed locally by 68.3 percent (67.22 percent districtwide). Additionally, the Williams Unified School District bond measure also failed to garner enough support from their voters, adding further concern that Colusa’s bond proposal would meet a similar fate.

Prior to their March 16 meeting, the school board was set to spend $14,200 for a consultant to “test the waters” in Colusa on whether there would be general support for another bond to help build new facilities. Colusa voters last approved a $5 million property tax measure in 2016, which went toward restroom upgrades, a new HVAC system in the Colusa High School gym, two new portable classrooms at Burchfield, new fire alarms at all three campuses, a new Ag Barn, and other projects.

EMC Research, the surveying firm the district selected, had planned to provide the school board with a statistically valid survey that evaluated the likeliness that November 2020 voters would pass a bond. According to the district’s facilities assessment, about $30 million more in needed repairs and modernizations have been identified.

But whether concern over the financial impacts of coronavirus in the state had anything to do with the unprecedented failure of more than 70 percent of the school bonds in the March 3 election, there is definitely concern now, officials said.

“Especially right now when the economy is so uneasy,” said Trustee Kathie Whitesell.

The board voted 5-0 not to proceed with any expenditure related to a bond proposal at this time.

School officials said that the local economy might be too fragile now to ask voters to dip into their pockets further to fund facilities, but that they may reevaluate a proposal in two years.

The school board said the earliest they would consider floating a bond would be the Nov. 8, 2022 mid-term election. 

Susan Meeker
Susan Meeker is the Editor and Reporter for the Pioneer Review. She started her position with the Pioneer Review in January 2017 as the Advertising Manager. Susan specializes in local crime, government reporting. She also loves covering the various topics and events in our county. You can send her a message at susan@colusacountynews.net