Editorial: Hollister district takes prudent approach

Trustees unanimously endorsed Superintendent Gary McIntire's plans for Calaveras School at this week's meeting.

Hollister School District leaders are taking a refreshing approach toward convincing voters to support a $27 million school renovation bond.
Trustees earlier this month decided to forgo placing a measure on the June primary ballot and instead will focus on preparing for the November ballot. Superintendent Gary McIntire and trustees discussed such reasons as potential timing of a San Benito High School bond, the need to reach voters passionate about schools, and a desire to have more preparation time in working with the architect and supporters. Most telling from a hired demographer’s survey report presented at the meeting: Parents of students at district schools – potential voters with the most at stake in the immediate future – are more likely to vote in November than June.
During the special meeting presentation – attended by no members of the public outside of the newspaper – McIntire stressed his belief that an open, honest campaign would go over well with local voters. He cited recent statistics from a hired demographer pointing to likely, adequate support – when the measure is explained in detail – to get the bond over the necessary 55 percent threshold. Trustees agreed with his conclusions and, despite knowing when SBHS will float its own renovation bond, targeted the November time frame for their measure.
Hollister district officials are being proactive in addressing a likely spike in growth over the latter half of this decade. They are reacting to housing figures showing 2,500 new homes currently planned for the area in the coming years. They are responding to the reality that as long as the national economy holds, Hollister will absorb its fair share of new housing from such causes as people migrating due to another Silicon Valley surge, a rapid increase in retiring seniors and local residents looking for an affordable home while they’re still somewhat affordable.
 Although there is no guarantee all those planned homes will get built in the immediate future, the figures do represent a trend toward increased growth and enrollment.
District officials now have nearly nine months to make their case. It is early, but so far the bond looks like a winner. The district is focused on addressing core classroom needs while renovating current elementary and middle school campuses, as opposed to building a new school on one side of town or filtering portions of the potential capital funds toward sports facilities.
They have to address an array of details related to the November measure – including an examination of developer impact fees to ensure those fees cover certain costs – and inspire supporters to follow through on their message.
Their mission is to gain the trust of district voters, and their prospects look good. That positive outlook is the culmination of a significant, refreshing reversal on an array of fronts – most significantly, improved financial responsibility, openness with the public and the district’s focus on enhancing the classroom experience.

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