Sale of $100M school bonds approved

Editor's note: This corrects the amount of the bonds in the headline.

COSTA MESA — The Newport-Mesa Unified School District can start selling up to $100 million in bonds to fund campus upgrade projects.

The school board on Tuesday night unanimously approved selling bonds for the construction of two middle school "enclaves" and two theaters at Costa Mesa and Corona del Mar high schools and begin planning the renovation of Newport Harbor High School's Davidson Field.

"There are a lot of people out there who are very happy," said Trustee Karen Yelsey after the vote.

The middle-school enclaves will give the seventh- and eighth-graders a separate place on the high school campus where most of their classes will take place and where their lockers will be.

The bonds are part of the $282-million ballot measure, known as Measure F, that voters approved in November 2005 to "increase students access to educational opportunities for all students, provide facilities to meet current state educational requirements and improve student safety by completing specific projects," according to the original ballot language.

The district has already sold about $70 million of the Measure F bonds to fund a number of projects, including Estancia High School's Jim Scott Stadium, Costa Mesa High School's aquatic center, and the installation of science classrooms in elementary schools.

The district has been waiting to sell additional bonds until it could keep its promise to residents that doing so wouldn't increase their tax rate, said Acting Supt. Paul Reed.

With the economy showing signs of turning around, "We feel it's safe to sell bonds," Reed said.

Reed is expected to travel to San Francisco Thursday and Friday to meet with bond-rating agencies to secure the best possible rating for Newport-Mesa Unified, he said.

"I want to help them understand what a good risk we are," he said.

Construction for the projects is slated to begin over the summer and is expected to take about two years, Reed said.

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