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Board approves bond placement on ballot
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It was a night of reports, budgets, projections and a bond initiative as members of the Oakdale Joint Unified School Board assembled for their final meeting of the 2023-2024 school year on Monday night, June 10.

While most of the reports presented are customary for the end of each school year, it was Resolution #23-24-19 authorizing the issuance of a School Bond for the Nov. 5, 2024 election ballot, which was dependent on a unanimous board vote.

Presented to the board by OJUSD Superintendent Larry Mendonca, the board and audience were reminded of the former bond which was passed in 2002. The primary need stemmed from residential growth, which was happening at the time. Funds from that bond were for construction of a new elementary school (Sierra View), as well as facilities expansion at Oakdale Junior High and Oakdale High School.

“Since then the district continues to build and maintain facilities functionality to serve its students,” Mendonca stated, “however the enrollment projections are not showing significant increases for the foreseeable future.”

While the projections do not show an increase in enrollment, the age and conditions of OJUSD school sites dictate that they are in need of repair as well as modernization in many instances.

Mendonca indicated while many of the improvements needed were “obviously clear,” the district employed an outside source to perform a districtwide assessment of each site’s needs.

The bond being proposed for the November ballot would be a General Obligation Bond as was passed in 2002, which would serve as an opportunity for a Modernization Bond to the tune of $105 million.

“This bond can be issued in a series,” the superintendent shared, “as the 2002 bond expires and would provide the same bond rate as was approved by the voters back in 2002.”

Mendonca further shared he believes this to be the right time and right tax rate for Oakdale that would renew the original rate from 2002, emphasizing that all funds would stay in Oakdale.

Prior to the presentation of the resolution for the bond being presented to the board for a vote, Oakdale City Manager and longtime community member Bryan Whitemyer addressed the board.

“I’m one of seven kids and all of us had the opportunity to go through Oakdale schools and it’s a pretty cool experience,” Whitemyer said.

The City Manager shared as a parent of four students of OJUSD, he was also a part of the Facilities Committee assembled by the board, noting that the opportunity offered him the chance to visit all sites and assess what was needed.

“Let’s give the community the opportunity to choose,” Whitemyer encouraged the board. “To learn what this measure is, about this bond. My hope is that they would support this bond issue, so that generations to come can have similar experiences that I had and that my children had.”

The board responded with a unanimous vote, 4-0, as board member Tina Shatswell was absent from the meeting. The bond will now appear on the Nov. 5 ballot for consideration by the community at large.

The OJUSD Board will break for the month of July. The next meeting is scheduled for Monday, Aug. 12, 2024. Public meeting portion will begin at 6:30 p.m. and will be hosted at the OJUSD Tech Center.