Measure S gets strong showing as voting returns trickle in overnight

With little more than absentee ballot returns to go on overnight Tuesday, supporters of Measure S, the $110-million school bond, were full of optimism for a campaign they said reflected the best of grassroots work.

The education community was firmly behind the bond measure. That support was reflected in the crowd of about 30 who gathered at the Gordon Biersch Brewery Restaurant in downtown Burbank to watch the results come in.

Among them were school board members Larry Applebaum, Dave Kemp, Roberta Reynolds and John Dilibert. All five school board candidates gathered as well, as did former candidate Armond Aghakhanian, who failed to gain enough votes to move past the city's primary election last week.

As of midnight, 2,425 voters showed support for the bond and 1,613 were against it. That tally got Measure S off to a strong start, with about 60% of voters in support.

The bond needs 55% voter approval to pass.

The voter turnout and support for the bond impressed Applebaum, president of the Burbank Unified school board.

“This is way better than I thought it was going to be,” he said of the results favoring the bond.

Earlier in the day, Applebaum said he walked neighborhood streets one last time to target parents.

“That was a good demographic to go after,” he said.

The $110-million bond comes 16 years after voters approved the 1997 bond, which allowed BUSD to update its facilities. That bond was fully expended by 2005.

Measure S, if approved, promises to fund overdue upgrades to deteriorating campus roofs, asphalt and plumbing, and could fund a new technological infrastructure and energy saving projects.

Because state law required the school board to hold the balloting during an election that employs polling stations — something the city, with its all mail-in ballot system, doesn’t do on its own — Measure S was scheduled for Tuesday’s Los Angeles Community College District board of trustees election.

District officials reported facing a $6-million structural deficit by 2013-14 and estimated having about $1 million left in a dwindling maintenance account by the end of this year.

The district would have no choice but to use General Fund dollars to provide routine maintenance, repairs and upgrades to schools, officials said.

The Burbank Teachers Assn. and the Burbank PTA Council joined others in endorsing the bond.

School officials maintained that the district likely would owe about $2.50 for every dollar it borrows. But opponents worried about the financial risk of paying off the interest, which couldn’t be known until the bonds are issued.

If the measure is approved, property owners would be taxed $55 per $100,000 of assessed value through 2038. That would be $5 more than what property owners pay on the bond voters approved in 1997, which is scheduled to be paid off in 2027.

Regardless of how the final tally turns out, with the count possibly going into the early morning, supporters of Measure S said the result would be based on a campaign that lasted until the last minute.

Former Burbank Mayor Marsha Ramos, the campaign's figurehead, had set out knocking on doors Tuesday morning. By 8 p.m. when the polls had closed, months of her volunteer work had culminated.

“Things that are important require a great deal of personal sacrifice. This was worth every moment,” she said. “This is about our future. Our schools are that important.”

For the final result tally, visit http://cityclerk.lacity.org/election/results.html

-- Kelly Corrigan, Times Community News

Follow Kelly Corrigan on Twitter: @kellymcorrigan

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