The San Diego Unified School District is putting its largest ever bond request on the November ballot. The district approved the $3.5 billion measure for that would repair aging buildings, address lead in drinking water and upgrade school safety technology. The big price tag could also raise property taxes for people living the the SDUSD by six cents for every $100, which would be about $230 a year. The measure requires 55% approval from voters in November.
The vote Tuesday night was unanimous, 4-0, with Dr. Michael McQuary absent. According to the district, the Neighborhood School Safety and Repair measure would provide $3.5 billion in funding to repair aging neighborhood schools and make critical safety improvements, including several aimed at confronting the issue of lead in school drinking water. This will mark the first time the district has asked voters to approve a bond since the water crisis in Flint, Michigan brought the lead issue to the national forefront.
"The Neighborhood School Safety and Repair measure keeps the commitments we have made to the communities we serve," said Board President Kevin Beiser. "It allows us to provide students with the cleanest drinking water in the nation, provides for critical repairs at our aging facilities and creates job-oriented classrooms to prepare our young people for their future.”
San Diego Unified is the second-largest school district in California, with close to 200 education facilities. The average age of school buildings is now 48 years old. In addition to necessary repairs, the new measure calls for important upgrades to school safety systems, including intruder alarms and communications technology.
“School Police were deeply involved in planning for this measure, and we believe it will make an important contribution to the safety of our students,” said Captain Joey Florentino. He noted this is the first new measure introduced by the district since the school shooting tragedies at Sandy Hook and Parkland, Florida.
Every school in the district will receive upgrades under the bond. Among the measures included in the Neighborhood School Safety and Repair bond are upgrades to school safety technology that would allow classroom teachers to communicate quickly and securely with others in an active shooter situation.
“Accountability and transparency have always been central to our past bonds, and that is why we have released a complete list of every school and what they will receive through the Neighborhood School Safety and Repair measure,” said Lee Dulgeroff, chief of facilities for San Diego Unified. “We hope all voters will take the time to educate themselves about these important safety and repair improvements.”
An independent oversight committee and its sub-committees will serve as a bond watchdog, as it has with previous bond measures. Dulgeroff noted the district has received high marks for its bond oversight and management. For example, the district’s Propositions S and Z bond programs: Earned a perfect score of 100 percent for transparency from the San Diego County Taxpayers Foundation in 2016; was honored as “Deal of the Year” by Bond Buyer; received the ‘Aa2,’ Prime-1 bond rating from Moody’s (top rating tier) in 2015; earned the ‘AAA’ bond rating from Fitch Ratings, Inc. (the highest issued by the agency in 2017.)
Photo Credit: San Diego Unified School District