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Measure J infographic

Measure J, bonds for school facilities: How much would it add to tax bills?

on October 18, 2012

Oakland residents will vote on November 6 whether to allow the Oakland Unified School District (OUSD) to issue $475 million in bonds to repair school facilities and start new projects. If voters approve Measure J, OUSD will begin planned projects at 11 schools in Oakland, including McClymonds High School and Foster Elementary, among other district-wide improvements. Projects range from replacing portable classrooms with permanent buildings to constructing community kitchens at school sites.

Measure J infographic created with View Measure J projects in a larger map

Measure J would be the fourth in a series of bond measures to be approved over the past 18 years. Bond measures allow institutions to borrow money and, with time, pay back the loaned amount, plus interest. The borrowed money is paid back using funds produced by tax levies on Oakland property owners (see graphic for Measure J tax amounts). The tax rates are not fixed, said OUSD director of public relations Troy Flint. Alameda County would set tax rates based on the actual repayment amount due each year.

Under the California Education Code, bond money may only be used to pay for facilities—“not people,” school board president Jody London said, adding that voters sometimes think bond money will be used for salaries.

Measure J would add to the $908 million borrowed in bond funds from three previous measures C, A and B, and approved by voters in 1994, 2000 and 2006, respectively. At a school board study session meeting on October 3, Associate Superintendent Tim White said most of that already-approved bond funding has been allocated, with $65 million from Measure B still being used to complete projects at schools like Chabot Elementary, Oakland High and Cox Elementary.

According to OUSD’s Facilities Master Plan adopted this May, the district still needs $1.5 billion to fulfill its goal to bring the 100 district facilities in the plan up to par.

“If we didn’t have the bond money, we wouldn’t be doing capital improvements in our school,” London said. “We know that when we do this work, people come to school. They want to come to shiny, new schools.”


  1. livegreen on October 18, 2012 at 2:23 pm

    What Jodie London says is true: when facilities are repaired, people are more likely to attend neighborhood schools. They become a center of communities & neighborhoods. Then those schools also improve when the community has a stake in them. It creates an upward cycle, not the opposite (a downward spiral that leads to fleeing families, a lower tax base, and lower performing schools).

    The proof is that schools like Chabot & Montclair that have received investment in the past have become some of the highest performing schools that attract the most community & neighborhood attendance.

    Furthermore Oakland schools scores have been steadily improving and leaving OUSD has finally leveled off. Schools are one of the best way to retain our citizens, our tax base, our property values and, by extension, make Oakland more solvent & financially able to provide services for all our citizens (middle class & poor alike).

    Vote “Yes” on Measure J

  2. Berl on October 22, 2012 at 9:31 pm

    Say “no” on new property taxes. Every bond measure is a tax measure in disguise. Bonds are loans, which need to be paid back by raising taxes.

    Oakland schools are still run much too inefficiently. We have twice as many buildings as we need for the number of students. We need to close more schools, concentrate resources on students (not administrators), and use the existing money more efficiently.

    Pouring more money on a troubled school system will not help until we reform the systems that wasted the previous money on extravagant salaries for staff, stifling rules, and cronyism.

  3. livegreen on October 23, 2012 at 8:53 pm

    I would like to emphasize something you state early on: “replacing
    portable classrooms”: at our child’s school, Glenview Elementary, the
    Glenview Earthquake Preparedness engaged a seismic structural engineer to
    check on the safety of the school’s portables (some of them are up to 40
    and 50 years old).

    The results were ALARMING. Many had little or NO foundation! Even the ones
    that did were judged to be seismically unsafe. MANY old portables like
    this exist across Oakland…

    We made it clear to OUSD that if something happens to our children that is
    based on old & faulty buildings & construction, we will hold them
    accountable. They responded by making a significant effort in Measure J to
    support replacing or eliminating old, unsafe portables.

    We cannot afford to witness the loss of life that occurred in China to
    happen here. As it stands now, it certainly could.

    Thank you OUSD for being responsive to family concerns for the safety of
    our children.

  4. Forster on November 7, 2012 at 11:57 am

    Once again part of the people are paying for the benefit of all of the people. This is inherently unfair to property owners. The OSD has poormouthed its way to huge benefit This should be the LAST lopsided burden put on the homeowners and businesses of Oakland.

  5. Jon on October 1, 2013 at 3:30 pm

    I’m a homeowner and taxpayer in Oakland and I for one am not in favor of anymore increased taxes. If Oakland wants more money go after Prop 13. I’m sick of paying 10X more in taxes then my neighbor ( who makes more money). Broken sidewalks, no police and more crime. Yeah, a tax increase will do nothing.

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