The Contra Costa County Taxpayers’ Association Director asked me recently why the West Contra Costa Unified School District needed a 7th school construction bond as if there was some carefully thought-out construction-based planning process behind it. I chuckled. I shared with him these steps for how the wheel keeps going ’round:

  1. Survey/push-poll people with leading questions late in an odd-numbered year.
  2. Find a tax rate that will give a comfortable margin over 55%.
  3. Calculate a total “bondage” amount based completely on that tax rate.
  4. Attach a permissive scrambled “project list” for everything and anything.
  5. Include front-end ballot text language to stay “within legal debt limits” along with buried back-end language that the district may have to seek a debt ceiling waiver. (For the last 2 bonds, the district has been over the statutory debt ceiling on waivers.)
  6. Put it on a June or November even-year ballot. (These are the only allowed dates for WCCUSD Prop. 39 elections.)
  7. Use “scope-based” “budgeting” to burn through the money while holding the tax rate for that specific bond withing the projected limit.
  8. Repeat two years later.

The district pats itself on the back for staying at target individual bond tax rates, while a total school bond tax rate that is already the highest in all of California continues to grow more and more.