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Confusion Blamed for School Bond Failure : Education: Burbank residents were unsure how funds would be spent or how much it would cost them.

TIMES STAFF WRITER

A $100-million bond measure to renovate and repair Burbank’s public schools failed on the April ballot because some residents didn’t understand how the money would be spent and how much it would cost them, school board members learned Saturday.

A town meeting in the library of Burbank High School, the site most in need of reconstruction and repair within the school district, was intended to help board members figure out what to do next.

But what they got, for the most part, was an earful of complaints from some of the more than 30 people at the meeting.

“The question for me is how much money do you really need?” said resident John Phillips. “If you go with a bond issue, my recommendation is that it’s a reasonable amount.

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“In this economy, with this public, you didn’t realize who you were selling to. Everyone wanted to vote for it. . . . No one could understand it.”

Board members acknowledged that information distributed to the public about the bond measure did not make clear where certain dollar figures came from. They were advised by unpaid consultants “to debate the need, not the numbers,” said board member Denise Lioy Wilcox.

Virtually all of Burbank’s public schools are in need of renovation, many residents and officials agree.

Under the $100-million bond measure, expected to cost most residents less than $50 a year, the district would have received an additional $23 million from the city’s Redevelopment Agency and $15 million from the state--for a total of $138 million.

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Burbank High School, which is about 70 years old, was slated to receive nearly $56 million to be completely rebuilt.

The bond measure garnered 53% of the vote on April 12, but needed a two-thirds majority to pass.

Stacey Murphy, wife of former Councilman Tim Murphy, told the board she was shocked by its defeat.

“We know our schools need to be revamped,” she said. “Just tell us where you got the numbers. People didn’t understand all the factors.”

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Some of the suggestions by residents included hiring a public relations firm to work on a future bond issue and establishing a committee of volunteers to point the board toward the next step.

“I think there are a lot of people out there who don’t trust the school board and City Council,” said Bill Wiggins, Burbank’s new mayor.


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