DUSD places $42M bond measure on November ballot

Members of the Dinuba Unified School District Board of Trustees listen to a presentation from elementary school principals about a new program they are implementing this year during a board meeting June 13, 2024.(Serena Bettis)

Dinuba Unified School District Board of Trustees goes out for $42 million bond to fund facility improvements

DINUBA – Dinuba Unified School District (DUSD) hopes to continue its investment in student success and safety through facility improvements district-wide.

In order to do so, the DUSD Board of Trustees voted 4-0 to place a $42 million bond measure on the November ballot at its meeting June 27; Trustee Sandra Kizirian was absent. The final decision comes months after the district first tested the waters of public opinion last fall and found the measure would likely pass the required 55% voter approval threshold with a margin of error plus or minus 5%. 

DUSD Superintendent Joe Hernandez said that as the district was conducting its survey, school safety and repair were “huge issues” that residents said they cared about. Many district facilities are also increasingly in need of maintenance, safety upgrades and more.

“Our schools were made in a different era,” Hernandez said. “Offices were small; often we have trouble with confidentiality because we have so many staff to be able to service kids. … There’s great need.”

Funding generated from the bond can only be used for expenses relating to school facilities, including acquisition, construction, reconstruction, rehabilitation, replacement, furnishing and equipping of facilities.

According to the bond measure text, funds will be used to repair and update vocational and career classrooms and labs, provide safe drinking water, remove asbestos and mold, repair facilities, sites, equipment, wiring, gas lines and leaky roofs and upgrade security and emergency communications systems.

More specifically, Hernandez said the district at the very least plans to use the bond revenue to help convert the current Dinuba High School to a middle school and the current middle school to an elementary school, construct the second phase of the athletics facilities at the new high school and improve the multipurpose rooms at some of the elementary schools.

Board members were fully on board with the bond and opted for the $42 million bond over the $35 million bond after both paths were presented to the board at its previous meeting June 13. At that meeting, Jenny Bruner, vice president of financial advisor Keygent LLC, walked through differing assumptions about assessed value growth and interest rates that showed the district could raise more than originally thought.

“The impression I have is … if you go out for $42 million, then we don’t have to go back to the taxpayers later on and say ‘Oh, you know what, we kind of undershot,’” Trustee Ron Froese said.

If it passes, the bond would levy a rate of 6 cents per $100 — or $60 per $100,000 — in assessed property value, which is the maximum amount allowed under California Proposition 39. This would generate approximately $2.8 million annually.

Based on the 2023-24 median assessed property value of $174,982 for a single-family home in Dinuba, the bond measure would add approximately $105 to a homeowner’s property tax bill.

The district’s decision to place the $42 million bond measure on the ballot did not impact the annual cost to taxpayers. Instead, it slightly lengthens the time it would take to pay back the bond while also assuming the district’s assessed value will grow at a faster rate, meaning the bond will generate more tax revenue in a shorter amount of time.

The bond measure will appear on the Nov. 5 ballot for voters who live within the DUSD boundary.

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