The San Diego Unified School District (SDUSD) board voted unanimously to approve its final budget proposal Tuesday, and also discussed a possible bond measure that would create funds for new schools and campus improvements.
This bond measure, the third in ten years, would be for $3.5 billion which homeowners would pay.
“The last two bond measure have substantially improved the conditions of our schools and they will continue to do that, so until those bond measures are complete that does not mean all the needs are gone,” district spokesperson Samir Naji said. “There are still substantial needs in the district.”
Among those substantial needs, according to the SDUSD, are issues with lead in the drinking water supply and campus security. The proposed budget includes a plan for a modern communication system that can facilitate an immediate lockdown, as well as new security features that will secure entryways to campuses.
So far, SDUSD has spent close to $1.7 billion of the $5 billion under Proposition S and Proposition Z, which passed in 2008 and 2012 respectively. Many improvements have been made with that spending, like improvements to technology and the replacement of hundreds of portable classrooms.
The district says the Bond Oversite Committee has always given SDUSD high marks, but parents and some stakeholders believe some of the money has been misspent.
As examples, they point toward the installation of a brand new stadium at Crawford High School and an artificial turf field at Emerson Bandini Elementary installed before old campus plumbing was replaced, which was a promise made in both Propositions S and Z. Lead has since been discovered in the water at Emerson Bandini. Naji said the school is scheduled to be rebuilt.
Naji also said that when it comes to the appropriation of bond funds, it's about timing.
“Bond programs and their ordering are incredibly complex,” Naji said. “Money comes to district schools over time and not all at once, and if an opportunity arises where we can work on a project while long-term planning is going on, that’s an opportunity worth seizing.”
The last issuance of money from Prop S is scheduled for 2031, and in 2021 for Prop Z.
So if the district has not spent the money it already has, why ask for more now? According to SDUSD, it is spending the money to fix what it promised to under those propositions and needs more to keep up with other needs at schools.
The board will vote sometime this summer whether to put the bond measure on the ballot.