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Getting out the vote in March

In choosing to put a proposed $110-million bond extension to voters on March 5, Burbank Unified will face the challenge of getting out the vote for what is otherwise a snoozer of an election.

The district — under too much of a time crunch to get the bond extension on the November ballot — was practically forced to the March 5 date, pairing the measure with the Los Angeles County Community College District election (read: yawn ). That’s because state law requires that tax measures have polling stations. Burbank’s all mail-in ballot municipal election system doesn’t require them.

But by pairing up with such a relatively obscure election, Burbank Unified will have to work extra hard to get the vote out and take advantage of a recent survey that pegged public support at 60%, comfortably above the 55% required. That is, if enough of those supporters vote.

The $110-million bond extension would build on the 1997 bond, increasing by $5 the current tax rate of about $42 per $100,000 of assessed value per parcel. It would qualify Burbank Unified for more than $10 million in matching funds from the state, according to the district.


The stakes are high. Among the projects that would be funded by the bond proceeds: upgraded classrooms and alarm systems, fixing deteriorating roofs and plumbing, and the construction of new classrooms to replace portable buildings.

Part of the reason the district held off the November ballot was because teachers unions and parent organizations basically said the majority of their formidable campaigning energy would be devoted to getting Gov. Jerry Brown’s tax initiatives approved at the polls.

Come March, let’s hope their refocused energy on the March ballot can make up for the voter apathy toward an otherwise obscure county election.