A $29.9-million bond issue that would have funded construction of a new high school in San Gabriel was defeated in Tuesday's election, but San Gabriel Unified School District Supt. Gary E. Goodson said the high school will open this fall anyway, in temporary facilities.
The bond measure fell far short of the two-thirds majority it needed to pass. Despite vigorous efforts by bond supporters to rally support among San Gabriel voters, the measure did not garner even a simple majority.
Measure HS would have paid for a two-story structure to house Gabrielino High School on the site of Jefferson Intermediate School and for expansion of the district's elementary schools to accommodate the displaced intermediate students.
The high school will begin in the fall as planned, Goodson said, although construction of a permanent facility will not. Intermediate school students who would have gone on to San Gabriel High School in the Alhambra High School District will form the first freshman class at Gabrielino High School.
A $1.5-million bond, approved March 21 by the school board, will provide temporary classrooms for seventh- and eighth-graders who will be moved to the site of what is now Madison Elementary. Temporary buildings will also be added at Roosevelt Elementary to house elementary students relocated from Madison.
Despite Tuesday's bond proposal defeat, the measure's supporters say they will try again.
"We have the children and the future to think about," said Barbara Bauld, school board president. "We will try again, probably in November. And we learn with each election what we need to do."
The bond measure's defeat is the latest setback to the fledgling district, which was created through a unification election in April, 1992. Before then, San Gabriel was only an elementary and intermediate school district. The 1992 vote authorized it to provide high school education as well.
But a similar bond measure to build a high school failed in March, 1993. And last June, the Alhambra district filed a lawsuit contesting the validity of the unification election by arguing that Alhambra voters should have been included in the contest that created the new district.
In a ruling on the lawsuit March 22, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Diane Wayne said the exclusion of Alhambra voters violated their constitutional rights to equal protection. Alhambra then asked the judge to invalidate the unification election. But at the time of Tuesday's vote, the judge had not yet done so, creating uncertainty about the district's future.
The legal controversy may have scared away San Gabriel residents from voting for the bond, Goodson said.
"The lawsuit was the real problem for us in this election," he said. "I think it confuses people, and when you're asking people to spend their money and they're a little confused, they say no."
Joe Crawford, the district's assistant superintendent for business services, said the bond would have been financed with a property tax of about 47 cents per $1,000 of property value. Thus, the owner of a $100,000 home would have paid about $47 a year.
James Moss, of the Save Our Homes Committee, a group that worked against the measure, said he thinks many voters decided to oppose it after homeowners near the proposed high school site voiced fears that their homes would be destroyed to provide more space for the facility.
"At first (San Gabriel residents) wanted a high school, but when they heard there would be homes demolished, and found out what it would cost in taxes, they didn't want to take those homes for an unnecessary school," Moss said Tuesday night.