By SALLY HOGARTY
Orinda residents will vote on two Orinda Union School District (OUSD) bond measures, totaling $105 million, this November. Measure E, also known as the academic excellence/STEAM measure, would update science, technology, infrastructure; construct, acquire, repair classrooms/facilities, sites/equipment. If passed, it would authorize $50,000,000 in bonds at legal rates, levying 3 cents/$100 assessed home value. For example, a homeowner with a house accessed at $500,000 would pay approximately $150/year. This bond, which requires 55 percent to pass, would average $2,900,000 annually while bonds are outstanding. It would include citizen oversight and annual audits with funds controlled locally. No administrator salaries would be paid from this measure. Measure I, which also requires 55 percent voter approval, seeks to upgrade classroom air conditioning, electrical, fire safety, security lighting, communications/camera systems, classroom locks; update science, technology, engineering, art, math classrooms; construct, acquire, repair classrooms, facilities, sites/equipment. If passed, the measure would authorize $55,000,000 in bonds at legal rates, levying 3 cents/$100 assessed value and average approximately $3,200,000 annually. As with Measure E, there would be citizen oversight, annual audits and no administrator salaries would be paid from this measure. According to the OUSD website, Orinda schools are 45 – 60 years old with aging facilities in need of updates to ensure the continued health and safety of local students. The facilities also need improvements in safety and security, increased energy efficiency and the addition of air conditioning.
“Over the course of the past year, Orinda Union School District has completed a comprehensive facilities master plan that has identified over $165 million in critical updates needed in Orinda schools,” explains OUSD Superintendent Dr. Carolyn Seaton. “These required improvements go beyond the funding that can be generated by a single measure, so the OUSD Board of Trustees unanimously voted to place Measures E & I on the November ballot to address $105 million in needs in our local schools.” Yasaman Nazmi Lee, chair of the Measure E and I Committee, adds, “Lafayette, Moraga, Walnut Creek and Piedmont schools have all been updated and now Orinda schools are falling behind. These measures will allow us to not only address deferred maintenance, but also needed upgrades to ensure the excellence of our schools.” The OUSD Board of Trustees voted unanimously to put both measures on the ballot. Board President Carol Brown says, “As a member of the Orinda community for the last 26 years, I’ve seen how big an impact our high-quality schools have made in the lives of local kids. Orinda schools have protected our quality of life and the value of our homes for years, but now classrooms are aging and in desperate need of improvements.” Election day is Nov. 6 with the registration deadline Oct. 22. The last day to request a vote by mail ballot is Oct. 30. For more information, go to