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Survey: School bond would pass

• About 65% favor $300 million to build Hart district facilities

Posted: June 27, 2008 1:48 a.m.
Updated: August 28, 2008 5:01 a.m.
A survey commissioned by the Hart district found that 65 percent of Santa Clarita Valley voters would be likely to vote for a bond measure that could potentially pay for new facilities, including a high school in Castaic, if the measure is placed on the November ballot.

The survey has a 5 percent margin of error, but only 55 percent approval is required to pass the $300 million Proposition 39 facilities bond.

"We found that you do have sufficient support for the $300 million bond that was tested," Amelia Caine of Godbe Research told the William S. Hart Union High School District governing board at Wednesday's meeting. Caine is a senior research manager at Godbe, and was the author of the survey.

Conducted via telephone between April 26 and May 5, the survey initially asked voters if they would support a $300 million bond measure. With a sample size of 800 voters, 34 percent of those surveyed responded "definitely yes" and 31 percent responded "probably yes." Of voters who did not support the bond, 19 percent responded "definitely no" and 10 percent responded "probably no."

After that initial question, respondents were read a list of annual property tax increases, and were asked if they would support a bond associated with an increase in increments of $5, $8 or $12 a year over the current, voter-approved tax rate of $30. Sixty percent responded that they would support an increase of $12, with support peaking at 70 percent for a tax increase in increments of $5 per year.

"Decreasing the tax rate had the overall result of increasing support for the measure," Caine said.

Voters included in the survey were selected from all regions of the Santa Clarita Valley, but not equally.

"Castaic was oversampled, because we were very interested in learning what voters in Castaic thought," said Rob Gapper, chief operations officer for the district.

When given a list of 16 potential projects and asked which projects would make them more likely to support a bond, survey respondents placed building a high school in Castaic twelfth on the list. However, when provided with additional information about the project, like the statement "The new high school in the Castaic area funded by this measure will reduce overcrowding at neighboring schools," 71 percent of those surveyed would support a bond measure that provided a high school in Castaic.

"Before, they didn't really give any reason for why a certain project is needed, but once the information is added, the attitude of the voters changed," Gapper said. "When presented with information - not just projects - then the Castaic high school results shoot way up."

Finally, after being provided with information about certain projects, voters were once again asked if they would support a $300 million bond measure. Support for the bond measure decreased one percent to 64 percent at the end of the approximately 18 minute survey.


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