Q:  I heard Big Creek and Pine Ridge were only included to lower the cost to all voters.  They don't have many kids and they only attend 9-12 anyway.  Is this really fair?
A:  Of all the possible solutions, it is the most fair choice to included Big Creek and Pine Ridge in the vote.  Their K-8 schools do a wonderful job, but those students all flow into Sierra High School.  The outcome of this vote will significantly impact what happens at Sierra High in the next 10 years.  Those district representatives have expressed concern from their communities on the availability of transportation and programs for their high schoolers.  The most reasonable option is to include these communities in the vote, as well as the outcome.
Q:  All California schools are having the same funding problems.  What makes you so different?
A:  Two things make Sierra Unified different from most other districts: 
   1)  Sierra is a small, rural district covering a large geographical area--translates to large transportation costs
   2)  Sierra has been paying on a large facility debt from its general fund.  Normally, construction is funded through a bond.  When you look at the total cost, including interest on the loan, eighty percent of the construction costs have been made "out of hide".  This bond would cover the remaining 20%.
Q:   So, if the COP loan of $5.2 million will be paid off in 2017 why the need for Measure "O"?   
A:  Sierra Unified, along with all other CA schools, have been receiving less than Prop 98 guaranteed funding for 4 years now.  Since 2008, SUSD has lost $8.4M.  The district has made some severe cuts to adjust to this situation.  They went from four schools to two, and cut 24% of their employees, while still trying to protect the education and programs that keep children excited and motivated.  However, heading into next year, more cuts are coming from Sacramento.  Right now, cuts are proposed for transportation, which would be extremely harmful for all small, rural districts like ours.  Whether those cuts materialize in the form of transportation cuts or some other form, more cuts ARE coming.    So the question is...what does our district cut next?  They have proposed several scenarios to give us a feel for what the next few years would look like if they continue "as is" (shown as "COP"), refinance for lower payments, or pass a bond.  I'll attach that slide for your review.  Our position is that we need to take that facility payment OUT of the general fund, and keep those funds focused on instruction and programs, as they should be.  Refinancing for lower payments continues the same practice, and continues to erode funds meant for instruction.  And frankly, it doesn't go far enough.    The bottom line is that to finish out the loan "as is" would cut programs and instruction to unacceptable levels.  This course penalizes kids in the system right now.  This will also feed into the cycle of declining enrollment because more children will go "down the hill" for access to sports, music, drama, ag, AP classes, and more.    We have a chance here to "right the ship", and move forward, and we believe it is the most responsible thing to do.
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