San Diego, CA. - Certainly not a surprise to those who keep a close eye on these efforts over the years, the San Diego Unified School District will ask taxpayers to approve a $3.5 billion bond to improve school safety, technology and infrastructure this coming November.
If the bond passes by at least 55 percent of voters, it will add 6 cents to property tax bills for every $100 of assessed valuation.
How big of a bond is it? $3.5 billion represents the third largest bond request in the district’s history. The district, in the last 10 years, has made three bond requests.
Tuesday night, San Diego Unified Board members voted 4-0 Tuesday to place the “San Diego Neighborhood School Repair and Student Safety Measure,” on the November ballot.
Lead Drinking Water Crisis
The District says the funding will bring critical safety improvements, including confronting the issue of lead in school drinking water.
The bond proposal passed unanimously 4-0 withDr. Michael McQuary absent. Board President Kevin Beiser spoke about the need for this enormous cash infusion, “The Neighborhood School Safety and Repair measure keeps the commitments we have made to the communities we serve. 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 has close to 200 education facilities, with the average age of school buildings now about 48 years old. The measure also calls for upgrades to school safety systems, including intruder alarms and communications technology.
Critics Come Out
San Diego Unified has come under criticism for its spending and backlog of bonds. Money from Propositions S and Z still remains. In fact, district officials said about $2.1 billion remains. Former member of the District's oversight committee Attorney John Stump noted in an interview with the San Diego Union-Tribune, “We’re still paying off the last two, What are they sneaking in this time?”
Stump is concerned about more taxation on homeowners and how that will impact our affordable housing crisis. Stump noted, “This bond is essentially a 30-year mortgage so it’s not just the upfront $3.5 billion that’s concerning. It’s the compounded interest over the next three decades.”
San Diego Unified Board of Trustees remain the only elected officials who get the opportunity to stay in office for life. They also haven't always lived in the districts they represent.
There are rumblings that a new effort is underway to change the way those elections are held, and in selecting trustees who might be more accountable to their respective districts.