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Measure to Expand Schools Goes to Voters

SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

An election Tuesday will decide the fate of an $81-million bond measure designed to provide more classrooms for the burgeoning student population of Palmdale’s elementary and intermediate schools.

Voters will cast ballots on Proposition A, which would raise property taxes an estimated $27 a year on an average-priced Palmdale home, said Nancy K. Smith, superintendent of the Palmdale School District.

The money raised would be used to build new classrooms for Palmdale’s 18,200 students in kindergarten through eighth grade, who now attend schools originally designed for 12,000 pupils.

Smith said teaching has suffered because overcrowding has forced students into 274 portable classrooms and onto a year-round schedule that decreases the number of school days per pupil.

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If the bond measure fails, another schedule, further reducing school days, would be implemented.

“We’ve been looking at our needs and talking to parent groups,” Smith said. “And parents overwhelmingly say, ‘We don’t want to change [the school calendar].’ ”

There is no organized opposition to Proposition A and no argument was submitted against it on the sample ballot.

That heartens Tina Courtney, a mother of three children in the strapped district who supports the measure.

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“I just keep my fingers crossed and hope and pray everyone thinks the same way” as supporters do, she said. “Our kids deserve this.”

The measure requires a two-thirds vote for passage and will raise funds only for facilities for kindergarten through eighth grade. Smith said local high schools, which are part of a separate district, do not suffer the same overcrowding.

She said that with just under 2,400 kindergartners in the system and only 1,550 eighth-graders, the need for high school facilities is not pressing.


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