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.
Q:  Haven't the transportation cuts been cancelled?  Weren't they replaced with cuts spread across all students?  Is the continued discussion of transportation just a scare tactic?
A:  According to Gov. Brown's budget for the current fiscal year (which started Jul 1, 2011), if revenues didn't reach a certain level (called a "trigger point"), cuts would be made mid-year (i.e. Jan 1).  These cuts were made as a mid-year cut to home-school transportation, levied by Gov. Brown in December, but were rescinded in February of this year by SB81.  However, SB 81 addressed THIS YEAR ONLY.  Tranportation cuts are still part of the governor's budget for next year.  Per Kevin Yamamura's Capitol Alert article at SacramentoBee.com (Feb 15), this cut may be delayed until the following year as the state debates a complete restructure of school funding, but transportation cuts still remain very much "on the table"--so much so that Fresno County continues to direct their districts to assume no transportation funding for next year and budget accordingly. 
SUSD has definitely looked at selling and/or leasing its properties.  In fact, the Virginia Causey Education Center (a.k.a. the old district office), arguably the most marketable and versatile facility the district owns, has been for lease for over a year with not one potential customer.  Selling school properties is a complex process.  Districts must first offer the property to government agencies for low-income housing and park and recreation uses.  Once that is done, there are a host of other government agencies that have "first dibs" on the property before it can be placed on the open market.  In today's real estate market, the old campuses would not bring much.  Added to this, the district has reconfigured to two schools, but those two schools are full.  Should the student population increase even moderately, it would be time to consider expanding beyond the two-campus model.  At that point, the existing AES and SES campuses present a huge advantage over starting from scratch.  The district has property associated with the Ag Farm, which we believe they should try to preserve, and an additional property in the Millerton area, which would possibly bring $100-200,000 in today's market--a small portion of one year's payment on the existing debt.
Q:  The kids won't see a penny of the money raised for the bond.  Once the district gets the money, they'll blow it on something else.
A:  School bonds are designated for specific purposes, which must be defined in the bond proposal.  Bonds are for construction and modernization (remodeling).  Measure O proposes to pay off the remaining costs of the Foothill campus constuction.  Measure O funds cannot be diverted for any other purpose, and this will be confirmed by a citizen's oversight committee.  Clearing the construction debt from the general fund will return $1.1M per year to fund instruction and programs for the students.
Q:  If the district is so broke, why do they spend $80-90,000 on these bond campaigns?
A.  The district pays about $1,500 in fees to the county when it places a bond on the ballot.  Any other fees, which include legal, financial underwriter, and (on the 2010 campaign) advisor fees, have been contingent on the passage of the bond.  Since the prior two efforts have failed, none of these fees were charged or paid.  The current campaign is a completely grassroots effort.  The "Yes for Measure O" committee is made up of citizen volunteers with no professional advisor.  The campaigns funding is entirely through private donations.  We are focusing on low-cost means of getting the word out, versus diverting energy into trying to raise a lot of money for the campaign itself.