Measure O is a $186 million bond measure on the Nov. 2 ballot submitted by the San Mateo Union High School District.
The measure would pay off district debt, fund classroom projects and finance a new continuation school to replace Peninsula High School, which is located at the former Crestmoor High School site in San Bruno.
About 60 percent of the bond is expected to be spent on construction and energy efficiency projects. The remaining 40 percent would be used to retire construction debt.
The debt service payments are now taken out of the district's general fund, and paying off the debt would save the district about $1.2 million annually, said Elizabeth McManus, deputy superintendent of business services for the school district.
According to the ballot proposition's full text, Measure O would also allow the district to:
- provide Americans for Disability Act handicap accessibility features
- comply with up-to-date fire, earthquake and safety standards
- install updated wiring to accommodate current educational technology
- remove hazardous materials
- refinish damaged and deteriorating exterior walls comprising un-insulated asbestos-cement panels to prevent exposure of potentially hazardous asbestos fibers
- upgrade fire alarm systems to automatic systems, repair fire safety equipment, and integrate new classrooms in each school's fire safety system
- replace/upgrade existing security systems
- upgrade emergency communication systems, including warning systems and public address systems
- retrofit electrical systems for classroom technology
- upgrade outdated heating and ventilation systems
- improve drainage and water systems
The district estimates that Measure O would add about $5 per year in property tax to every $100,000 worth of accessed value, according to the proposition's impartial analysis. The tax rate from the district's two previous bond measures, Measure D and Measure M, is about $31.79 per $100,000 of accessed valuation, according to the district.
The measure requires approval from 55 percent of district voters. If the measure passes, the Board of Trustees would appoint a citizens' oversight committee and conduct annual audits.
Supporters argue that the measure will help give students a 21st century education and provide a steady stream of funding that cannot be taken away by the state or used for administrative salaries.
"Measure O will provide all students with equal access to modern, high quality educational facilities for college and careers," the argument in favor of the measure says.
Peninsula High School is not centrally located in the district and it would be too costly to modernize the facility, backers say.
Opponents are concerned about the cumulative debt from the district's two previous bond measures and claim that the cost to taxpayers would be more than $1 billion with interest.
"All this debt—in just 11 years!" the argument against the measure says. "You and your children will be paying it down for decades to come!"
The district hasn't proven that it needs a new continuation school, critics say, and the improvements should have been funded under Measure M, the bond initiative voters approved in 2006.