Debating the pros and cons of Measure C

Voters in the Mt. Diablo Unified School District will be going to the polls in a couple weeks to vote on Measure C, which would allow district to borrow $348 million to fund school construction and upgrades. 

It could be me, because I don’t live in the MDUSD, but this ballot measure snuck up on me. Last year at the same time, I was hearing lots more about Measure D, the MDUSD parcel tax initiative that missed receiving the two-thirds vote it required to pass. 

Driving around Ygnacio Valley this weekend, I didn’t see too many Yes on Measure C signs up. Not as many as I would expect.  Okay, we’ve still got two weeks until the June 8 election. But I’m  still wondering whether this bond measure was put together, somewhat quickly, in response to the Measure D loss. Is the district just trying to raise extra revenue in any way possible? They couldn’t get the money last year to pay for teachers and classroom programs. Now, they are attempting to get money that will pay for construction projects and facility upgrades. Afull list of Measure C projects is available on the district’s website: visit and click on “Community.”

The district’s chances of passing the measure are higher, because it only requires 55 not 66 percent of the vote. 

Anyway, here are excerpts of local community leaders and journalists, offering differing viewpoints on Measure C. And you vote on the Crazy poll at least, telling the rest of us how you intend to vote in the June 8 election.

The first is pro-Measure C commentary from Walnut Creek City Councilman Kish Rajan and Jenny Reik, the chair of the Pleasant Hill Education Commission.  Their commentary was published in the Contra Costa Times. 

Our local school district, Mt. Diablo Unified, has provided great local education for decades, but today it faces significant challenges. Continuous state budget cuts over the past three years have taken a serious toll on our local schools.

Measure C won’t solve every problem facing our local schools, but it will provide critical support to local students when state funding is increasingly unreliable. It will go a long way toward helping local students meet today’s and tomorrow’s challenges.

Measure C will add classroom instructional technology and upgrade science and computer labs. Improved technology will enhance advanced classes and elementary instruction in math, science and language. It will provide students the relevant technical skills they need to compete for careers in tomorrow’s job market. Measure C projects also include energy-efficiency improvements like solar and other upgrades that will secure state incentive grants and cut costly utility bills.

Measure C will also fix leaky roofs and windows, upgrade, renovate and repair neighborhood schools that date from the 1950s and ’60s, and make other basic repairs to schools that are outdated and deteriorating. Measure C will provide safe places for supervised after-school activities like athletics and fine arts.

A full list of Measure C projects by school site is available on the district’s website: visit and click on “Community.”

Measure C is affordable and responsible. It maintains the tax rate voters approved with the last local school measure in 2002, without increasing taxes above that rate. In addition, by law, Measure C has taxpayer safeguards in place: All funds will be subject to independent citizen oversight and annual audits, and funds can’t be taken by the state. Audits have shown that the original Measure C was implemented effectively. That commitment will continue with this Measure C.

Contra Costa Times columnist Daniel Dorenstein had less nice things to day about Measure C in his column: Exorbitant price tag on Measure C

Mt. Diablo school officials never provided voters key information that would reveal the tremendous cost of the district’s bond proposal on the June ballot.

To understand the exorbitant price tag of Measure C, think of a home mortgage. If you were to borrow $348,000 to buy a house using a conventional 30-year mortgage at 5 percent annual interest, you would end up paying $672,530 in principal and interest over the life of the loan. In other words, you would pay back roughly double what you borrowed.

In contrast, with Measure C, district officials seek permission to borrow $348 million to fund school construction and upgrades. But officials haven’t told voters that they plan to stretch the repayment out over more than 40 years with most of the pain coming on the back end. To cover the principal and interest, property owners, by one estimate, would have to pay $1.87 billion in taxes, or more than five times the amount borrowed.

It seems that even school officials didn’t know the full expense. When Superintendent Steven Lawrence came to us last month seeking editorial backing for Measure C, I asked him what the total cost would be. He had no idea. Indeed, the district didn’t generate the number until Iasked for it. … 

Here’s another problem: Bonds for construction don’t address the district’s most critical problem. What the school system needs first is money for its day-to-day operations that have been shortchanged by the state budget crisis. For that, the district needs a parcel tax, an annual assessment to raise money for the general fund. The problem is that requires approval of two-thirds of the voters, a threshold the district failed to meet when it put a parcel tax on the ballot in May 2009 and only received 59 percent approval.

District officials considered trying again. But when polling showed they couldn’t meet the two-thirds threshold, they instead turned to the bond proposal, which requires approval of only 55 percent of voters. It’s like going shopping for a car when you need transportation, but buying a house instead. 

Meanwhile, Bill Gram–Reefer, publisher of the political Halfway to Concord blog is very much opposed to Measure C: 

Taxpayers in Contra Costa County can’t catch a break. Not only are they faced with crushing public employee pension costs negotiated by Supervisors more concerned about union bosses than citizens, but now the Mt Diablo Unified School District (MDUSD) wants to pour $1.87 billion down the drain while playing patty cake with BIG LABOR in the form of an ongoing Project Labor Agreement (PLA) that raises construction costs by 20%!

64 thoughts on “Debating the pros and cons of Measure C

  1. Does anyone care about the reduced grad requirements? I think this is big. What educated parents would want to keep their kids in a district that lowers standards? Why would potential new families choose to move to this district? If Soccer Martha Mom is reading… this should be a topic all to itself.


  2. 10:22,

    Judging by your high and mighty tone (talking down on a rough neighborhood) you must be either Paul or Gary. Which one? Why don't you post by name anymore?

    I think you guys flew this measure C plane into the ground the night you gave your attorney buddy a $20k+ raise. I suspect you will do similar things with any money freed up in the general fund by measure C.


  3. Anon 7:32 aka Doctor J

    No it is not Sherry or Gary (you use the same words in your posts on the CC Times, I see a pattern).

    I am talking to my neighborhood too, in support of Measure C. I have signs, am handing our fliers and talking. I have found that the retired age group is in support and it was specifically asked if their tax rate would increase, they liked that it would not and were not fazed by the long term of the Bond. Many are on a fixed income, what I heard was “our neighborhood schools are important and we want to help”.

    Those of you that oppose, please post what you specifically see that can be cut without causing the State to take over the district. Remember there are a lot of mandates and laws, so do your research and be specific.
    I do not see any concrete statements. I am interested.

    MDUSDTeacher, yes I don't like the reduced graduation requirements either. Sadly I understand why it had to be done. My son will still take a full load and graduate meeting all A-G requirements and have 240 credits. He is College bound, but I know others that want to attend trade school. Not everyone is College Bound. I just hope we don't loose any Honors or AP classes in any of our High Schools.

    I see every day the needs in our schools (I am not a teacher, just an active volunteer).

    Again, money from the Bond will NOT be used for salaries, it can't. The twists of this are funny and show twisted minds. The needs in our facilities is over whelming. How can MDUSD move into the 21st century without funds for the necessary improvements? How can facilities be maintained without the funds? Would you work in the conditions that our children are being educated in?


  4. I really don't understand the concern about as one poster stated “accounting tricks” It seems simple to me. If you free up money in one area of the general fund (electricity costs) and legally you can move it to another area (salaries) what's the problem? I think it's smart financial planning. Especially since this community did not bother to come out and vote for a parcel tax.


  5. There is so much hostility in our district, people at each other's throats all the time. Very disturbing. I'm trying to get my kid into Las Lomas in the Acalanes district. At least they have music there run by a very fine teacher. Can't remember his name but has been there for decades. Mt. Diablo is sinking fast.


  6. Anon 8:49

    Your comment is part of the hostility. I for one will not jump ship because it is not necessarily better in the water.

    The hostility is on the blogs posted by Anonymous posters. They hide behind their computer. But out there in the schools, I don't see or hear this. Times are tough in our State, the State is heading down the wrong path and hopefully the upcoming elections show that we want change, big time.

    We as a community can change this, like the WCSD, ASD and other surrounding districts. Yes on Measure C and start helping our students and community.


  7. “MDUSDparent said…” is pretty nebulous as well. What is your full name and address? I thought so…


  8. I will absolutely not vote for this tax. I've been taxed enough. Clean up your finances first, then we'll talk and consider an appropriate tax if needed. President Ronald Reagan said it best “Trust, but verified”…


  9. I would rather have my kids sweat a bit, and go to school in a shanty and have better teachers. This bond is a fiscal nightmare at a time when sound decisions should be made. Focus on the kids and teachers first. Not hoping that the district will no longer have enegry costs and the weight will be lifted off the general fund.


  10. Anon 1:56

    You answered your own question. If weight is lifted off the General Fund by Measure C, then money is available for programs, ie teachers, training, classrooms, teaching tools and supplies.

    Yes on Measure C


  11. 2:17. Does the district have solid numbers as to how much will be “lifted” from the general fund? Do we have a clear indication how much of the 1.8 BILLION dollars we are paying can be used in other areas of the general fund?

    Just lookign for an ROI number.


  12. Just as Sherry has stated, when I post a comment on a blog, I use my name and I stand by my comments. As I have always said, I am available at . I have constantly encouraged community members to e-mail me or phone me at 925-304-1546 and I'd be happy to respond to any and all questions. I am also available to attend gatherings of 1 to 100 or more to answer questions and hold discussions about the issues.




  13. How disappointing. Gary, it is great that you will talk to people who contact you but you have an obligation to communicate to our greater community.

    I have to ask myself why are you choosing not to? Why not post the solar projections on the MDUSD web? Why not explain the promises on the campaign literature? If our children are receiving great new technology that will move them into the 21st century, I would think that you would want to tell us all about the instructional technology. What it is. How it will be used. How it will transform programs. How it will provide college and career readiness. What are science clusters? How will they/it change the way our middle school children learn? You should be excited to share this with us. I have to ask myself why are you choosing not to?

    If it is as great as the Measure C brochure “in very general terms” makes it sound, why aren't you excited to tell us all about it?

    These are fair questions that all voters should be asking. It is not about not wanting to support a bond or a parcel tax, it is about THIS BOND and what we expect from our district leadership when it comes to decisions about our kids. This bond reeks of a bad decision.


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