One of the most controversial measures on this year's ballot appears to have passed.
San Diego Unified School District’s bond measure, Proposition Z led with 60 percent of the vote and 93 precincts reporting.
Prop. Z, otherwise known as the “San Diego Neighborhood Schools Classroom Safety and Repair Measure of 2012” will address construction, safety and technology needs, in addition to some energy efficiency projects and charter school improvements.
On average, schools in San Diego are about 43 years old, according to a University of San Diego study. The measure asked voters to authorize $2.8 billion in bond sales to be used to improve the district’s aging facilities, according to the resolution passed by trustees.
The bond was opposed by taxpayer advocates who say the district must manage the money they have better. It was supported by those who believe the district has no funding alternatives.
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The measure was proposed just after a $122 million deficit almost resulted in laying off over 1,400 teachers. One district trustee believed the schools’ financial hardships were so dire, the district should have declared insolvency, allowing the state to take over.
The district says a 2008 bond measure, Proposition S, did not provide enough money for all the repairs and purchases the district needs. Even more is needed to finish capital improvement projects identified as needed before Prop. S, said district spokeswoman Cynthia Reed-Porter.
Before Prop. S was placed on the ballot, about $7 billion in facility improvements were identified. The first $2.1 billion bond funded would tackle the most dire capital improvement projects. Now the district plans to use much of the additional $2.8 billion for maintaining and updating the infrastructure built from the first bond, an overview of the measure states.
The new bond measure would “sustain” the investments of the old measure, as San Diego Education Association President Bill Freeman puts it.
But the San Diego County Taxpayers Association sees it differently. The bond measure could almost double property taxes. This, on top of proposed sales tax and business tax increases on the ballot, will create an overwhelming burden for taxpayers throughout the county, said Lani Lutar with the SDCTA.
The association identified several issues with the measure, all stemming from a distrust of how the district will spend the money.
What Prop. Z WIll Be Spent On:
Source: San Diego Unified School District, Bond Allocation Summary