Letter to the Editor: SSFUSD MEASURE T = A Deceptive Bond Measure

South San Francisco, CA  September 16, 2022 by Marty Romero

There was an article in the San Mateo Daily Journal on September 10, 2022 that featured South San Francisco Unified School District Officials.  The comments by Board President John Baker and Superintendent Dr. Shawnterra Moore do not adequately explain what will actually happen, if they spend $80 million from Measure T funds, to build 120 housing units ($666,666., per unit), plus interest.  Who will actually pay and who will actually benefit? 

As interest rates continue to rise so will the cost to taxpayers.  There may be some affordability for a few teachers, but it will certainly not benefit all teachers and staff or improve any existing facilities.  The primary purpose of the project isn’t about helping teachers.  It is actually about how much additional income the SSFUSD can generate, using Measure T funds, at the expense of taxpayers and teachers.     

Taxpayers will foot the bill to pay the construction costs and will be making payments for the general obligation bonds, for over 30 years.  It’s not free housing so teachers will pay rent to the SSFUSD, the amount is to be determined.  The rental income will not be used to repay taxpayers for funding the project or to pay off the G.O. bonds.  Rental income will be pocketed by the School District and deposited into the unrestricted General Fund.        

This is how the SSFUSD is planning to divert Measure T funds, which are restricted by California state law.  These types of bonds are restricted for a reason, to ensure that the funds are not misused or spent improperly.

Plain and simple, District Officials are using this project as a way to generate income and divert Measure T funds to the General Fund.  Why?  Because the General Fund is where operating expenses and administrator salaries can be paid, which cannot be paid with Measure T funds. 

District Officials are deceiving voters and taxpayers and guess what, they did it before.  When Measure J, a $162 million bond measure was approved a few years ago, SSFUSD Officials spent $25 million on a District wide solar power project, to save $20 million in electricity costs.  Unfortunately, the cost to taxpayers is over $45 million, including interest.  Yes, to save the School District $20 million, $45 million will be paid by taxpayers for the next 30 years.

The Chevron solar power project has resulted in significant, excessive and ongoing costs to taxpayers thanks to SSFUSD Officials.  They did not care about the cost that taxpayers must pay.  It was planned as a way to divert restricted Measure J funds, to supplement the General Fund and they are trying to do it again.    

Please don’t give this song and dance that your priority is affordable housing for teachers, as indicated in the article.  Your priority is how to fill your coffers at taxpayer expense.  This time we won’t be fooled. 

VOTE NO on MEASURE T

William Romero

Former Member, SSFUSD Measure J Citizens Bond Oversight Committee

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No on Tax T
No on Tax T
9 days ago

Being a past active parent participant of Site Council, I was very disturbed and utterly shocked at what was being discussed and proposed on use of funds during these meetings, including Title I funds. Sadly, I was disgusted with entire WASC process. Not all were met with welcome or expressed genuine care when asking valid questions about use of funds, addressing the dire needs of students and their educational success.
At various times, the audience was informed that majority of budget is for Administrator pay and very little is left for students. Yet, there is misuse of funds, with knowledge that many students are on reduced or free lunch programs and most certainly new teachers are also struggling. I also learned about the very low moral amongst teachers and the discord between new and long-time teachers. Parents of alumni were invited during the most important accreditation meeting, instead of parents of current students and couldn’t have been more humiliated when addressing the reality of our children’s experiences and struggles, with mere intent for betterment of our schools and ultimately, best interest for students and their success, especially knowing that issues were not unique and many parents/students did not know how or reluctant to address administration.
There is much more to be seen and believe the key is to attend meetings that involve all parties and all aspects of our public educational system and be persistent when asking questions, to be able to learn and make an informed decision about this and any other bond, rather than to continue to tax taxpayers as a solution. I sincerely hope people are met with open ears and genuine welcome with full transparency on use of all funds, and not receive conflicting and off-the-wall replies.
The quality of education and expectations of students even amongst our own District schools differ quite drastically, as well as the respect towards parents and students who wish to be involved in our child’s public educational system. It is difficult to accept a bond measure without the respect and faith thus far that funds would be used as promised.
I, however, sincerely hope that funding is secured as our schools do need upgrades, but I also believe in fairness and responsible management with student’s best interest in mind at all times. I also sincerely hope that teachers are being well taken care of through our District. Although Genentech provides scholarships for STEM students, not all students are in STEM fields (most likely, only serving minority of students); however, residents and communities are affected by the influx of the biotech community. This may very well be a possible source of funding through taxation or developer fees. I also believe SSFHS’s football field was funded by the 49ers years ago, as a direct benefit to students.
Most importantly, I certainly do not believe in use of much needed, exclusively intended funds for use other than for educational needs of students. Education is most certainly a luxury to many and we certainly appreciate and grateful for the education being provided by our District and to all the wonderful and supportive teachers; just ask for consideration and insight into a child’s life and what any amount of funding may provide to a student, such as tutoring, supplies, uniforms, healthy snacks during sports games, etc..
Expectations and respect are two-fold and helps to be met with open doors and respect along the way, especially when the intent is for best interest of not only my children, but knowing intent is for many others who also have to work harder to prove we can also be successful in our educational system and have a silent voice, knowing education is a luxury not to be taken for granted and just wish the same opportunities and be viewed as human equals.
NO on Measure T
YES on securing funding through other sources

Tony Verreos
Tony Verreos
9 days ago

Measure T stands for T A X. When is enough – enough?
The amount of your hard earned money that is required to provide a top quality education for other people’s children is simply never enough, or never too much.

We all have an interest in the education of our future generations whether they are our own children or not, and most of us happily contribute our fair share to that end, but when
I see/read comments by the president of the American Federation of Teachers union Randi Weingarten, it really upsets me.

Rather than little islands in the middle of our residential areas, our public schools ought to be community action hubs connected to our residents, and drawing on volunteer resources of talent. Instead since they are government institutions, and union run businesses, they seem to be prevented in a large measure from taking advantage of lower cost solutions for whatever they may need.

At the same time they fail to provide for all classroom needs, and teachers commonly spend their own money to supplement what the school provides – so I am told by teachers.

Frank Rancatore
Frank Rancatore
14 days ago

What about the thousands of new affordable apartments for the Teachers, that our progressive city council members have Allowed.

Mina Swillorn
Mina Swillorn
15 days ago

I’m voting YES on measure T because measure J created an inequity in our district where schools in some neighborhoods got new buildings and schools in others did not. I would not brag about being on an oversight committee that dropped the ball. It is time to correct that and update infrastructure district wide.

Juan
Juan
15 days ago

I vote NO MORE taxes to the citizens and homeowners of this great country. I am tired of all of the excuses that life long politician’s and special interest give to support more taxes increases on the citizens. Yet, while these same politicians claim the City is poor, they continue to look for ways to give away free money on a monthly basis.

When are the citizens going to stop voting for these career politicians and start voting for tax breaks for the elderly senior citizens?

STOP VOTING for TAXES and CAREER POLITICIANS !!!!

Dolores Piper
Dolores Piper
15 days ago

These school districts that rely on the SSF tax base really need our help and support, especially as regards housing for teachers and staff. I have been at night meetings with teachers and staff who at 8:30 at night have to drive to San Jose where they MIGHT be able to afford housing. SSFUSD staff and teachers do an absolutely amazing job with the resources they have. Any funds that can be added to help our school district is a huge plus. Look at the school districts where students really excel – those are the ones on the Peninsula where the wealthy live and the school districts reflect the benefits of that wealth. We need to support our SSFUSD and not complain about what taxpayers will get back as some kind of reward. Our reward will be the ability to keep and attract top staff and teachers for our kids.

Cory Alan David
Cory Alan David
15 days ago
Reply to  Dolores Piper

Perhaps you could clarify Ms. Piper. Have any of these Peninsula communities built teacher housing at taxpayer expense? Frankly, I don’t know. Also, from what I can tell from Mt. Romero’s letter, some of the school funding has been redirected, dare I say misdirected, from its intended purpose. Maybe you can convince me otherwise.
If it has escaped your attention, SSF has a pretty big “wish list” this year. Who wouldn’t like low rent housing, free childcare and improved schools. All meritorious aspirations provided you don’t go recklessly in debt to accomplish them. I don’t spend beyond my means and I expect my city to do the same. On the other hand, if you have a spare billion dollars hanging around, I’d like to thank you in advance for your generosity to the cause.

Dolores Piper
Dolores Piper
15 days ago

I don’t know if any of these communities have built teacher housing – I believe that Daly City has just completed such a project. I’m just speaking as a parent who has experienced firsthand all that the staff and teachers do in our schools for our kids way over and above what would be normally expected. The communication with parents and students alone is a major task in addition to teaching and preparation and conferences and staff and board meetings. The job never ends at the end of the school day. In addition to staff and teachers, these SSF school facilities have changed not at all since my son attended in the 1990’s especially the middle and high schools. Covid brought the reality of the need to upgrade ventilation systems, bathrooms, etc. I can just imagine what the electrical and plumbing systems look like in these old facilities. I have other youngsters that are currently attending SSF schools. Half the time I am cleaning up the playground and street leading into Monte Verde Elementary. If I even had a million dollars, I would gladly contribute to housing and school infrastructure. I agree that funds should be properly dispersed, but I do not doubt the integrity of the employees of SSFUSD.

Cory Alan David
Cory Alan David
14 days ago
Reply to  Dolores Piper

As a product of this school system I both appreciate and sympathize with the challenges facing SSFUSD. Despite this fact, I can still not be blinded to the fact that we find ourselves in this situation because of alleged mishandling of funds. And, of course, every individual in proximity to the administration of the system is not complicit. They say timing is everything and perhaps this is an unfortunate consequence for this bond measure. As I’ve said, there is a pretty big “wish list” this year and the numbers just don’t “pencil out” for the residents who call this city home. It has become apparent that the governance of SSF has gone completely off the rails and many residents intend to try to reclaim what is left of our city before we are bankrupt by city officials who act with impunity when called on to satisfy the desires of any special interest that comes knocking on our door.

Tony Verreos
Tony Verreos
9 days ago
Reply to  Dolores Piper

Thank you for your efforts as a parent of SSF schools students, for being attentive, and even helping to clean up what others are paid to do, and what the students themselves should be taught to do.

It may be helpful to ask how we ever got into this situation where public schools never seem to have enough money to complete their mission, and student educational success ratings continue to rank CA schools near the bottom of our nation in effectiveness? How is this possible?

Are the children less intelligent?
Are the teachers less competent?
Are the classes less thorough?
Or is it lead in the water pipes?

Teachers are no longer under paid as so many used to claim.
Teachers may not even be working a full 12 months as most of us do.
Teaching schools are often ranked as the worse quality of US schools.
School Dist. Superintendents with a PhD earning more than the Gov. and
POTUS, for doing what?

Tony Verreos
Tony Verreos
9 days ago
Reply to  Dolores Piper

Dolores – Your point has some merit, but better test scores or educational outcomes is much more a function of better quality teaching than it is of more money or facilities. I give you the one room schoolhouse as proof.

No on Tax T
No on Tax T
9 days ago
Reply to  Dolores Piper

Being a past active parent participant of Site Council, I was very disturbed and utterly shocked at what was being discussed and proposed on use of funds during these meetings, including Title I funds. Sadly, I was disgusted with entire WASC process. Not all were met with welcome or expressed genuine care when asking valid questions about use of funds, addressing the dire needs of students and their educational success.
At various times, the audience was informed that majority of budget is for Administrator pay and very little is left for students. Yet, there is misuse of funds, with knowledge that many students are on reduced or free lunch programs and most certainly new teachers are also struggling. I also learned about the very low moral amongst teachers and the discord between new and long-time teachers. Parents of alumni were invited during the most important accreditation meeting, instead of parents of current students and couldn’t have been more humiliated when addressing the reality of our children’s experiences and struggles, with mere intent for betterment of our schools and ultimately, best interest for students and their success, especially knowing that issues were not unique and many parents/students did not know how or reluctant to address administration.

There is much more to be seen and believe the key is to attend meetings that involve all parties and all aspects of our public educational system and be persistent when asking questions, to be able to learn and make an informed decision about this and any other bond, rather than to continue to tax taxpayers as a solution. I sincerely hope people are met with open ears and genuine welcome with full transparency on use of all funds, and not receive conflicting and off-the-wall replies.

The quality of education and expectations of students even amongst our own District schools differ quite drastically, as well as the respect towards parents and students who wish to be involved in our child’s public educational system. It is difficult to accept a bond measure without the respect and faith thus far that funds would be used as promised.

I, however, sincerely hope that funding is secured as our schools do need upgrades, but I also believe in fairness and responsible management with student’s best interest in mind at all times. I also sincerely hope that teachers are being well taken care of through our District. Although Genentech provides scholarships for STEM students, not all students are in STEM fields (most likely, only serving minority of students); however, residents and communities are affected by the influx of the biotech community. This may very well be a possible source of funding through taxation or developer fees. I also believe SSFHS’s football field was funded by the 49ers years ago, as a direct benefit to students.

Most importantly, I certainly do not believe in use of much needed, exclusively intended funds for use other than for educational needs of students. Education is most certainly a luxury to many and we certainly appreciate and grateful for the education being provided by our District and to all the wonderful and supportive teachers; just ask for consideration and insight into a child’s life and what any amount of funding may provide to a student, such as tutoring, supplies, uniforms, healthy snacks during sports games, etc..

Expectations and respect are two-fold and helps to be met with open doors and respect along the way, especially when the intent is for best interest of not only my children, but knowing intent is for many others who also have to work harder to prove we can also be successful in our educational system and have a silent voice, knowing education is a luxury not to be taken for granted and just wish the same opportunities and be viewed as human equals.

NO on Measure T

YES on securing funding through other sources