Board Considering School Bond Vote

Considering the long-term need for buildings and other facilities, the Simi Valley school board said it may have to go to voters in the next two years with a school bond proposal.

"It's time we said the B word," trustee Caesar Julian said. "We're in a bind. All of this is wonderful. If we don't have the money, it's a waste of time."

Simi Valley Unified School District officials expect enrollment to increase by more than 6,000 students in the next decade. All but one of the district's schools is at least 25 years old.

"It's an alternative, maybe something that we need to look at," board President Janice DiFatta said. "Having some of the older schools in the community that have all aged at the same time, it has been literally impossible for the district to keep up with the ongoing rehabilitation needs."

Consultants have told the district that its list of needed repairs is extensive, according to Michael Murphy, chairman of a district committee devising a long-term facilities plan.

"To do all the things that need to be done, it could be in the neighborhood of $100 million. That's before you even start looking at brand-new facilities," Murphy said, adding that Simi Valley voters would probably not see a bond on the ballot before November 2000.

DiFatta said the district must complete its facilities planning to determine how much of its construction needs can be paid for with existing resources, such as developer fees, the sale of surplus property and the use of state bond funds that must be matched at the local level.

The district's last bond request came 10 years ago when voters approved spending $32 million for school beautification, replacement of air-conditioning systems and other basic improvements.

The school board plans to continue its facilities session at 6:30 p.m. Sept. 2.

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