L.A. District Seeks Bonds for Long List of Upgrades
Pushing to finish a massive construction and repair program for its overcrowded campuses, the Los Angeles Unified School District is asking voters to approve a multibillion-dollar bond measure on Tuesday, the third in seven years.
Measure R would provide $3.87 billion to add neighborhood schools, renovate and expand aging campuses, make room for full-day kindergarten classes, build charter schools, upgrade adult school facilities and build more preschool centers.
District officials estimate that it would add 49,000 classroom seats, helping to end long bus rides from overcrowded neighborhoods and put many multitrack, year-round schools back on a traditional calendar.
Proponents say Measure R -- which needs 55% of the vote to pass -- would provide almost enough to finish a 10-year building program aimed at making up for three decades in which virtually no repairs or new school construction took place while the district’s student population swelled to nearly 750,000.
Measure R also would help the district continue its recent gains in student achievement, they say, by providing safe, modern facilities close to students’ homes. A professional facilities team has brought most projects in under budget recently, and a bond oversight committee has helped the district avoid the troublesome cost overruns that plagued projects from Measure BB in 1997.
Supporters, who have raised more than $1 million for their campaign, include many local elected officials, the League of Women Voters, the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce, labor groups, United Teachers Los Angeles and the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund.
Opponents, including the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Assn. and the United Organization of Taxpayers, say earlier bond measures already are overburdening taxpayers. They warn that projected increases in the student population might not materialize and say the district should use money from previous bond measures before asking for more.
They do not appear to have raised money for a campaign to defeat the measure.
Measure R would cost property owners as much as $60 per $100,000 of assessed property value annually. That would be in addition to the $100 per year per $100,000 in assessed value from two previous local school bond measures, the $2.4-billion BB and the $3.3-billion Measure K in 2002.