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Tuesday March 3, 2020 — Primary Election
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Special District

San Marino Unified School District
Measure S - 55% Approval Required

To learn more about measures, follow the links for each tab in this section. For most screenreaders, you can hit Return or Enter to enter a tab and read the content within.

Election Results


1,801 votes yes (41.15%)

2,576 votes no (58.85%)

To maintain schools by repairing and upgrading classrooms/restrooms/plumbing/electrical/heating/air-conditioning/security/fire/earthquake safety systems; updating science/engineering classrooms; repairing, constructing, acquiring educational/athletic/arts facilities/equipment, shall San Marino Unified School District's measure authorizing $200 million in bonds, within legal interest rates, levying $0.06 per $100 assessed value, averaging $11.9 million annually, while bonds are outstanding, be approved, with no increase to tax rate limits?

What is this proposal?

Details — Official information

Impartial analysis / Proposal

Mary C. Wickham, County Counsel

Approval of Measure S ("Measure") would authorize the Board of Education ("Board") of the San Marino Unified School District ("District"), which placed the Measure on the ballot by Resolution No. 12, to issue general obligation bonds in a maximum principal amount of $200,000,000.

Proceeds from the sale of bonds authorized by the Measure shall be used only for the purposes specified in the Measure, including, but not limited to, repairing and replacing existing buildings, portable classrooms, shelters, parking areas, facilities and building systems and equipment; adding classrooms, including those that support science, engineering, and learning technology centers; and repairing, building and constructing athletic, visual performing arts, an aquatics complex, and pool facilities; and making exterior and interior improvements for power conservation, roofing, earthquakes, fires, security and alarm features; providing information, technology systems, and equipment for cable infrastructure, network expansion, wireless access points, and communication administrative systems. Bond proceeds may not be expended on teacher or administrator salaries or other operating expenses.

The Board shall establish an independent Citizens' Oversight Committee and cause independent performance and financial audits to be conducted annually to ensure bond proceeds are expended as specified in the Measure. An annual report shall be filed regarding status of projects and funds collected and expended. The Board shall deposit bond proceeds into a Building Fund held by the Los Angeles County Treasurer and Tax Collector.

Approval of the Measure does not guarantee proposed projects described will be funded beyond the local revenues generated by the Measure. The District's project proposals may assume receipt of matching State funds which may be subject to appropriation by the Legislature or approval of a statewide bond measure.

Bonds may be issued pursuant to the California Constitution, Education Code, Government Code and other laws. The bonds may be issued in series by the District over time. The interest rate and maturity date on any bond shall not exceed the maximum allowed by law. According to the District's Tax Rate Statement, the best estimate of the average annual tax rate required to fund the bonds, based on assessed valuations available when the District filed the statement, is $0.06 per $100 of assessed valuation. The best estimate of the highest tax rate required to fund the bonds is $0.06 per $100 of assessed valuation in each year the tax is anticipated to be collected. The final fiscal year the tax is estimated to be collected is 2057-58. The estimated total debt service required to be repaid if all bonds are issued and sold is $413.6 million, including principal and interest. Estimated tax rates are based on the assessed value of the property in the District.

This Measure requires a fifty-five percent (55%) vote for passage.

Published Arguments — Arguments for and against

Arguments FOR

We are fortunate to live in a community that values education for all students and helps keep San Marino schools among the best in the State and the nation. However, our schools were all built over 50 years ago, and those buildings not renovated 20 years ago now require safety repairs and updates to keep up with changing educational standards.

An independent Facilities Advisory Committee (FAC) was formed to review, evaluate and report on school facilities' needs. After an extensive evaluation process, the FAC identified over $200 million in essential safety repairs and improvements that will ensure they continue to serve our students and the community for decades to come.

Measure S is an extension and does not increase tax rates.
Voting Yes on S protects excellent education in San Marino and provides safe and up-to-date classrooms for our students – by extending (not increasing) the current tax rate paid by residents.

Measure S will help fund needed repairs and updates at our schools.
–  Repair aging classrooms and replace outdated portable classrooms
–  Upgrade school safety and campus security, including alarm systems and fencing
–  Repair deteriorating roofs, flooring, plumbing and electrical systems
–  Reduce utility costs by upgrading water and energy conservation and installing efficient windows and heating, air conditioning and ventilation systems
–  Update classroom technology, science and engineering labs

Measure S requires strict fiscal accountability.
–  No funds could be taken by the State or used for administrator salaries
–  Citizens' oversight and independent audits would be required
–  Local funding will help San Marino schools qualify for state matching funds

Measure S protects property values.
Good schools help keep our property values high and maintain the quality of life in our community.

Protect your investment in our students, schools, community and future.

Vote YES on S.

Member, Board of Education, 1997-2005
Board President, 1999-2001, 2004-2005

President, PTAffiliates, 2010 - Present
Past President, San Marino PTSA, 2000-2002

Past President, Valentine Elementary School PTA, 1990-91
Past President, Huntington Middle School PTA, 1993-94

Past President, San Marino High School PTSA, 2013-2014
Past PTA Council President, 2015-2016

Chinese Liaison, Huntington Middle School, 2013-2019
Past PTA President, Carver Elementary School, 2015-16

Arguments AGAINST

Educational quality and instruction must be the top priority in SMUSD. Normally, districts asking for hundreds of millions of dollars have a well-thought-out plan so voters can be confident that desired expenditures will be integrated into a program to improve educational quality.

SMUSD has no definitive Master Facilities Plan. There is no link between facilities expenditures and curricular improvements. The bond also strains community resources that may be necessary to expand course offerings, train teachers or reduce SMUSD's large class sizes.

An outstanding education depends, first and foremost, on quality teaching and curriculum. While some facilities upgrades are necessary, there are more urgent needs to address first. Before taking on a $200 million liability for 38 years, our community needs to commit to educational improvements in the classroom and ensure we have resources to fund them.

By law, bond funds may not be spent on ongoing operations, class size reductions, teacher training, or to expand the curriculum. Nor can they be used to offset the district's operating deficit of $2-$3 million per year, which is projected to grow without significant new revenue streams or staff cuts that threaten education quality.

SMUSD's critical facilities and deferred maintenance needs could easily be addressed with a smaller bond in the near future, similar to the option previously proposed by the new Superintendent. This approach would allow time for our new superintendent to formulate an overall vision for our schools with facilities to support it.

Vote NO today, and say 'yes' to future investments in students, teacher training, expanded class offerings and enhanced educational opportunities.

A "NO" vote today does not preclude a vote to a smaller bond on a future ballot.

For more information visit:

SMUSD Parent

SMUSD Parent

Grandparent of Current Students

Retired Teacher

SMUSD Parent

Replies to Arguments FOR

WE AGREE that excellent schools are vital, not just to support property values, but for our children's future. 

WE AGREE that San Marino has deferred maintenance and security needs that require funding.

WE DO NOT AGREE that $200M is needed for security and deferred maintenance. Approximately 60% of projects on the FAC list have NO RELATION TO MAINTENANCE OR SECURITY. Including:
-  $46.4M for a Performing Arts Center
-  $11.6M for Administrative Offices
-  $8.1M for an Aquatic Center
-  $9.5M for Barth Center liability

WE DO NOT AGREE that the FAC process was sufficient to plan for our children's future or manage taxpayer dollars. A FACILITIES MASTER PLAN must be created and tied to an overarching educational strategy. The School Board skipped this step. "Fiscal oversight" processes will oversee cost management. They will not prevent projects that lack community support.

WE DO NOT AGREE that rushing a $200M facilities bond is a sound way to protect and support education. College matriculation has slipped recently. Over 50% of classes in grades 4-12 are larger than expert recommendations. 36% have over 27 students. Art, languages, and AP are more limited than area schools. Reducing class size, expanding curriculum and addressing SMUSD's $3M annual operating deficit should be our first priorities. 

Let's get this right with a more measured bond that targets essential improvements but does not tie up tax revenues for 38 years. SMUSD needs flexibility and room to INVEST IN WHAT IS BEST FOR OUR KIDS.

Vote NO on S.

For more information visit:

Facilities Advisory Committee, Member and Parent

San Marino School Foundation Trustee
San Marino Parent

Former PTA President

SMUSD Parent

Former PTA President

Replies to Arguments AGAINST

YES on S. Let's look at the facts.

FACT: San Marino schools consistently perform among the best in the state and have all been recognized as National Blue Ribbon Schools. Nonetheless, they were built over 50 years ago and have been maintained, but not fully renovated, in 20 years. Educational, technology, and safety standards have significantly changed in that time and our schools need essential safety repairs and improvements to help maintain our quality of education.

FACT: SMUSD does have a facilities plan that identifies proposed projects by site, reason, priority, estimated cost, and estimated start and completion dates. The District will continue seeking community input to determine the actual projects before any bonds are issued. Visit: and to learn more.

FACT: Measure S is an extension and DOES NOT increase tax rates. Measure S authorizes up to $200 million but homeowners will pay taxes only on the bonds actually issued.

FACT: MEASURE S requires strict LOCAL CONTROL AND FISCAL ACCOUNTABILITY. All funds stay in San Marino. No money can be taken away by the State or used for administrators' salaries. An independent citizens' oversight committee and annual audits are required.

SMUSD students deserve both quality education and quality facilities. As educators, parents and concerned community members, we believe now is the time to take care of our schools so they will serve our children and community well for decades more to come.

Vote YES on S.

Community Member
Carver Elementary School Principal, Retired

Former Parent, San Marino Unified School District
Past PTA Council President

Parent, San Marino Unified School District
Past President of Chinese Club of San Marino

Parent, San Marino Unified School District
Community and Schools Volunteer

Former Parent, San Marino Unified School District
Past SMUSD Facilities Advisory Committee Member

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