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Ceres voters will be asked to increase taxes for $114 million in school improvements
• On Nov. 5 ballot
CUSD campus needs
Ceres Unified School District feels a priority is to replace aging portables including at Carroll Fowler Elementary School seen here.

Voters in the Ceres Unified School District will be asked to approve a bond measure on Nov. 5 that would add an assessment to property tax bills to improve Ceres school campuses.

The CUSD Board of Trustees, on June 13, unanimously approved ordering the bond election for the upcoming presidential ballot.

The proposed measure, billed as the “Ceres Unified School District Campus Safety / Classroom Repair Measure,” would levy $60 per $100,000 of assessed property value annually for approximately 30 years. The tax bill for the median tax assessment value of $238,855 in Ceres would pay about $140 per year. Those with an assessed value of $300,000 would pay an extra $180 on their annual property tax bill.

To pass, the measure must receive a 55 percent plus none majority “yes” vote.

A consultant hired by the district said bond measures have a better chance of passage during presidential elections.

Godbe Research of San Mateo did two rounds of a feasibility study, one in May 2023 and the other this spring.

“Results were good,” commented Ceres Unified School District Supt. Amy Peterman. “Results show that overall the community is in support of and has trust in the district to make good use of bond money.”

If voters approve, the measure will authorize the issuance of $114 million in bonds to repair or upgrade Ceres elementary, middle, and high schools; improve campus safety and security systems; repair or replace leaky roofs, upgrade outdated heating, cooling, plumbing, electrical systems; repair or replace deteriorating portable classrooms; and update classroom equipment and learning technology.

CUSD’s comprehensive Facilities Master Plan identifies over $160 million in needed upgrades or repairs. The board’s resolution ordering the measure notes that the state does not provide dedicated funding to districts for school upgrades and that local funding is needed.

Peterman said the School Board will prioritize where the funds should be spent but the first set of projects planned will be replacing portable classrooms on campuses, including Carroll Fowler, Sam Vaughn, Virginia Parks, Mae Hensley, Ceres High School and Argus/Endeavor High.

The CUSD facilities master plan considers the needs of each campus, with the largest being $40 million for Ceres High School, including a new $10 million classroom wing to replace aging portables dating back to the 1980s. The campus also needs some classroom modernization. Another $6 million is calculated for Ceres High stadium improvements.

The district is currently installing an all-weather track and artificial turf at the CHS stadium, which is not part of the bond allocation if approved.

“The stadium improvements are part of a very, very long list of projects,” said Supt. Peterman. “We’ve got over $160 million worth of projects on a list for a $112 million bond so not everything will get done even if the bond passes. We’ll have to do different phases and then pick and choose which pieces of the different projects will be part of the bond.”

New classroom wings are also needed at a number of other campuses, including Carroll Fowler, Caswell, Don Pedro, Sam Vaughn, Virginia Parks, Westport elementary schools and Blaker Kinser and Mae Hensley junior high schools. New additions of offices and libraries are also on the list for the newer campuses of Patricia Kay Beaver, Hidahl and Berryhill campuses.

Peterman said that passage of the bond would mean the district would be in line for some matching funds from the state.

In the November 2022 election, 71 school bond measures in California succeeded while 28 failed. One that succeeded in Stanislaus County was Patterson’s Measure E which enacted an assessment of $57 per $100,000 of assessed valuation. The $74 million bond measure passed with a 60.3 percent voter majority.

Property owners in CUSD are still paying assessments on Measure U passed by the voters in 2008. The last series of Measure U bonds were sold in 2017. Final repayment is 2051. The Measure U 2023-24 tax rate is $47.74 per $100,000 of assessed value. 

Taxpayers are also still paying on 2001 Measure J bonds, which is expected to fall off in nine years. The 2023-24 tax rate is $38.27 per $100,000 of assessed value.

The assessments on the proposed new bond issuance would fall off in 2057-58.

To learn more about CUSD facilities improvements, visit