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After roller coaster election, Measure B passes

Bear River High School students walk by signs opposing Measure B. Photo by Brandon McGinnis

It’s been a long, hard road but Measure B’s final approval proves that voters do support local schools.

Measure B is a bond measure of $47 million for the Nevada Union High School District. The bonds would be used to update facilities at Bear River, Nevada Union, Silver Springs, and other NJUHSD sites.

“The passing of Measure B is a huge triumph for our district and, most importantly, for our current and future students,” said Bear River Principal Amy Besler. “Our school is beautiful and amazing, but it is over thirty years old and is in need of some repairs and upgrades; taking care of these needs will help ensure that Bear River will continue to thrive for many years to come.”

“We are very excited about the passage of Measure B,” said Dr. Louise Johnson, the Superintendent of NJUHSD. “Now we need to get busy. Next steps are the appointment of the Citizens Oversight Committee, issuing a Request for Qualifications for architect services, bidding some of the immediately needed projects, and putting together the long term construction team.”

According to Dr. Johnson, a facilities improvement plan focuses on infrastructure repair and upgrade. The money would be issued over time, she said.

“The projects are prioritized so all of the bonds would not be issued at once,” Dr. Johnson said. “We would work in phases starting with the highest priority and work our way down the list.”

“I’m thrilled that our community came through for us and look forward to the collaborative process of prioritizing our projects over the next few years,” commented Principal Besler.

Dr. Johnson elaborated on the fiscal details of the measure.

“As we move on to each phase of the list, the Board of Trustees may set standards for the interest rates and duration of that particular bond issuance,” she said. “Our financial projections assume an interest rate of 4% for the first round of bonds. The maximum allowable term for bonds in California is 30 years. As with the interest rates, the actual term would be determined by the board at the time the bonds are issued.”

Many efforts were put forth in order to prevent the passage of Measure B, including the proposed solution of closing down Bear River. Principal Besler offered her position on the closing of Bear River.

“I respect the viewpoints of all citizens as well as their right to express them,” she said. “I am disappointed that some of the anti-Measure B folks have chosen to actively bring the notion of Bear River being closed into the conversation. This has not ever and will not be a consideration for our school district. That type of comment, without direct knowledge of Bear River or our district’s commitment to it, is inflammatory and unnecessary.”

Dr. Johnson also voiced her support for Bear River.

“Bear River High School is a vibrant school serving south Nevada County,” Dr. Johnson said. “It has high test scores, championship sports teams, a state- and nationally-recognized Future Farmers of America program, new career pathways in computer science and digital media and amazing performing arts groups like Starlite Express. Bear River sends its graduates to the finest colleges or prepares them for careers of each student’s own choosing. The average comprehensive high school in California is 1410 students, so while Nevada Union is slightly larger than average, there are many likewise vibrant schools of about 700 students all over California. It makes no sense, whatsoever, to close Bear River High School. Period.”

But the majority prevailed and Nevada County ultimately elected to provide NJUHSD with funds for the schools.

“This measure passing by such a thin margin is perfect evidence toward the idea that every vote matters,” said Principal Besler. “Citizen input does not stop there, however we will need input from students, parents, and community members to determine our most urgent priorities with the funds we will receive.”

Students offered their opinion on the bond measure.

“I’m happy that it passed because now Bear River and NU can get the necessary fix ups that they need, like a new track and new pipes,” said senior Grace Tortorici.

“I think it is awesome because it’s going to improve our high schools so much and it’s going to make great learning environments for our future Bruins!” said senior Hannah Rothenberger. “The money is coming from taxpayers so I’m sure they’re not very happy but it’s for a great cause! I believe Bear River could use the grants by improving classroom supplies like tables/desks as well as a better air supply.”

Alex Douden, a senior, discussed his experience with Measure B and his first time voting in an election.

“Turning 18 this year gave me a chance to vote, and having AP Gov gave me information on the measure to come to my own conclusion,” he said. “I support our local schools, even though I’m not a fan of bonds and higher taxes, I believe as long as it’s going to a good cause we should support it. The measure being passed gave me a sense of pride knowing that I helped support the measure and potentially influenced those I talked to in favor of Yes on B.”

NJUHSD is especially grateful for the work done in order to promote the passage of Measure B.

“At Bear River, I especially want to recognize former principal Dick Wernz, teacher Jeff Carrow, and all of the students and staff who worked so hard to bring this vision to reality,” said Dr. Johnson.

“This is a tremendous win for us and I am so grateful for all the advocacy and education efforts our students and families engaged in around Measure B,” said Principal Besler. “Going after something you care about with passion and determination bears positive results along with personal and professional fulfillment and growth.”

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After roller coaster election, Measure B passes