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Bond measures J, K create opposing views within Twin Rivers Unified school board

The overwhelming majority of the district's board are in favor of Measures J and K with only one trustee opposing it.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — With election day less than two weeks away, voters in the Twin Rivers Unified School District (TRUSD) are being asked to weigh in on bond measures J and K

Measure J calls for a $120 million bond to address improvements for facilities used for middle and high school programs across the district. Measure K calls for an election within the District’s Elementary School Facilities Improvement District (SFID) for a $150 million bond to address elementary school facilities improvements in the SFID.

"The average school is 57 years old in Twin Rivers. We have some of the oldest schools in the region, so we're talking about changing the rusted pipes, the lead pipes, removing asbestos and also upgrading all the security," said Basim Elkarra, a TRUSD Board Trustee in favor of the two bond measures. 

The overwhelming majority of the district's board are in favor of measures J and K. The solo opposing vote comes from Board Clerk and Trustee Christine Jefferson who represents Area Three which covers Del Paso Heights, McClellan Park and North Highlands.

"First of all, I don't think our community can afford this bond. We're currently paying on four bonds in our community right now," said Jefferson. "To add the two that they're thinking about adding would be six bonds, a lot of our folks can't even afford to put gas in their car, feed their families."

In total, the bonds would cost $270 million if passed. Funds to repay bonds come from a tax on all properties within the district.  

"Per $100,000 assessed, it's about $5 a month," Elkarra said. 

Elkarra represents Area Five, which covers North Natomas and Robla. He's among those in favor of the two measures and says he worked to ensure the costs were as low as possible with low-income families in mind.

"The needs are probably over $400 million, and we came to a middle ground," Elkarra said. "Every community has folks on fixed income, and we wanted to ensure something that will be equitable and fair."

Jefferson also feels the district is lacking transparency when it comes to informing voters about specifics regarding consolidation of the bonds. Another concern she has is where the money will actually go if the two bond measures pass. 

"Last time we had a bond, nothing got fixed. Somebody ran away with the money, so the bottom line is we've been paying 15 years on something that we haven't gotten anything for," Jefferson said. "We were promised a school out there in East Natomas and that's sitting vacant now."

Elkarra ensures this time, there will be strong accountability from the board and public to make sure that the funds for the bonds will go towards what they're actually intended for.

"When it comes to bond funds, you're not allowed to use it for any administration for salaries; this is going to go towards facilities," said Elkarra. "The criticisms of our previous bonds, this is before Twin Rivers was even unified. This time, we got it right. It's already built in and this is going into phase one. We will have a high school in Natomas." 

However, Jefferson still stands by her decision to vote no on bond measures J and K and told ABC10 that it will have a negative impact on the area she represents if passed. 

"If they think they have homelessness now, when they get that bond, when that bond is passed, a lot of our folks are going to lose their homes because they simply can't afford to pay on those bonds," said Jefferson.

Both measures J and K require a 55% approval rate from the voters in order to pass. 

"This is a must. I mean, we have to do this as a community. We have to do this as a district to really upgrade these very aging schools," said Elkarra.

A community town hall meeting will be held on Tuesday at Rio Linda High School from 6 to 8 p.m. for residents to weigh in. 


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