Voters Indicate Support for Bond

Asked whether they’d like to continue taking steps toward putting forth a bond measure in November, the members of the La Cañada Unified School District’s Governing Board nodded vigorously.
They liked what they heard at Tuesday’s meeting from researchers who surveyed 454 likely district voters. Pollsters learned that more than 65% of those questioned would probably support a measure that would “issue $149 million dollars in bonds under a no-tax-rate-increase financing plan.”
Consultants from TBWB Strategies and True North Research teamed to conduct the survey, via phone and email, between Feb. 7 and Feb. 22.
They posed a range of questions, characterized as both positive and negative arguments, and found that, at the end of interviews, 39.8% of voters said they would definitely support a bond; 25.4% said they would probably support it; 11% said they probably would not, 15.7% said they definitely would not and 7% were not sure. (Just more than 1% preferred not to answer, and the poll’s margin of error is plus or minus 4.3%).
“Your measure not only has a reasonable chance of success, but a good chance,” said Tim McLarney, of True North Research.
In the coming months, the Governing Board will hear the results of the Facilities Master Plan, a prioritized wish list of upgrades to the district’s four campuses.
After that, they’ll have until Aug. 11 to determine whether to place a bond measure on the Nov. 7 ballot to support those improvements. Voters also will be selecting members to fill three Governing Board seats; Dan Jeffries, David Sagal and Kaitzer Puglia’s four-year terms are set to expire.
The bond, which would require 55% voter approval to pass, was described to potential voters as a 30-year extension of the local $530 per-year rate — or, in other words, an extension of the current $60-per-$100,000 of the residents’ assessed property value.
Support rose to 73% when potential voters were told the bond would serve as a tax extension and not a new tax, McLarney said.
He also said the arguments that appeared to resonate most with voters related to maintaining property values and improving education, concepts often linked in La Cañada Flintridge where the district’s reputation as one of the top in the state makes the city an attractive place to live for families with school-aged children.
“La Cañada voters really care about their property values,” McLarney said. “That was the No. 1 issue. It’s usually No. 2 or 3, but I haven’t seen it as No. 1 in a while.”
Though 84% of those surveyed indicated maintaining property values was an important priority, 62% of respondents said repairing and upgrading aging school facilities rated as an important issue.
“It’s not unusual,” McLarney said. “But it’s a really important lesson. Voters don’t care so much about buildings and facilities, that’s important to keep in mind.”
Though McLarney was optimistic about a measure’s prospects, he cautioned that “a poll like this is not a crystal ball. It’s a snapshot in time, what matters is everything that happens from this point forward. You’ve got to put the work in to continue this dialogue with the community about facility needs.”
The district previously worked with TBWB Strategies in gauging the local appetite for parcel tax campaigns in 2009 and 2014, both of which proved successful, eclipsing the required two-third of the vote.

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