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Hollister
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June 27, 2022

Supervisors question special school election costing $200K

A special election has been scheduled in June for the
Hollister
School District in its attempt to receive more funding through a
parcel tax. But county supervisors, before approving of the
election Tuesday, expressed concern about the $200,000 cost and the
district’s ability to fund it.
Supervisors had little choice in unanimously approving the June
7 election during Tuesday’s board meeting. The financially troubled
school district is holding the election to ask voters to support a
$96 parcel tax, while the district has estimated it would raise
about $1.2 million annually.
A special election has been scheduled in June for the Hollister

School District in its attempt to receive more funding through a parcel tax. But county supervisors, before approving of the election Tuesday, expressed concern about the $200,000 cost and the district’s ability to fund it.

Supervisors had little choice in unanimously approving the June 7 election during Tuesday’s board meeting. The financially troubled school district is holding the election to ask voters to support a $96 parcel tax, while the district has estimated it would raise about $1.2 million annually.

Hollister school board trustees in March approved of placing a parcel tax on the ballot.

Agencies must approve resolutions for ballot measures within 88 days of an election. Superintendent Gary McIntire on Wednesday said district officials were aware – when they submitted the ballot measure to the county elections office – how the statewide election broached for June would be delayed until at least November. He said an approval in November would result in having to wait until next school year for the possible funding.

And the June time frame means that the district will be up to $200,000 in the hole, whether voters approve of the parcel tax or deny it.

The district has faced severe budget shortfalls the past few years and has been at risk of a state takeover. District officials have laid off dozens of employees and cut more than $11 million over the past two years, while they recently approved a measure limiting interdistrict transfers to boost revenue.

The county funneled an additional $200,000 to the elections department to run the election in June, but the school district must pay back the money at the end of the fiscal year, head elections official Joe Paul Gonzalez said to the board.

The $200,000 is a high estimate, Gonzalez said, and it most likely will be less.

Supervisor Anthony Botelho asked Gonzalez about the board’s potential restrictions.

“There is no way we can just say ‘no’ to this election and make them have it in November with the other elections?” he said to Gonzalez. “Because I really believe the Hollister School District is making a hell of a mistake.”

The election would take place regardless of the board’s approval, Gonzalez said. The district already approved the election, and the time to recall it has already passed.

“This election is on,” said Gonzalez, who went on: “They will bear the entire cost of the election, which is unusual, because generally school districts have an election that has been consolidated in some way with the city or a special district, or more commonly with a statewide election.”

Supervisor Jaime De La Cruz expressed concern that if the measure doesn’t pass, the district might not have enough money to pay back the county and also pay its teachers.

“Let’s just say it doesn’t pass,” De La Cruz said. “I sure hate to send them a bill knowing the school district is going to be laying off some teachers. I don’t know how to say it – more than that. How is it that all five of us are going to say that we need $200,000 because we held an election for you, and you owe that now?

“They are going to come back and say the election failed and we don’t have the funds, so we are going to be laying off teachers.”

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