District sets sights on bond

GLENDALE — With a projected deficit and little help from Sacramento in sight, officials say Glendale Unified will begin the process next month of including a bond extension on the citywide April ballot.

Glendale Unified Supt. Dick Sheehan said school board members will soon discuss the merits of extending Measure K, the $186-million bond voters approved in 1997 — the first step toward getting the bond on the ballot.

"The district is currently exploring whether to go out for a bond measure," Sheehan said. "We are ensuring we do have support."

More than 10 teachers and parents told board members at their meeting last week that they supported the bond, which would preserve certain tax rates for 50 years. Representatives of SOS Glendale, a parent-led group independent of the district and its employee unions, sent messages to members last weekend on the bond's merits.

"We at SOS Glendale urge you … to move forward on the crafting of a general obligation bond to ensure the physical stability of our schools," said Edward Bash, the group's chairman. "We are all committed to the future success of our most precious resource, our children."

The group formed in February to push a parcel tax, which would have provided revenue to specific programs. A few months later, the Board of Education hired consultants to survey the feasibility of the bond and parcel tax.

The community survey indicated widespread support for the bond, regardless of its purposes. More than 55% of respondents said they'd support the bond if it went to salaries and medical benefits. Tying the bond to programs and facilities, support rose to 63% of respondents, according to data by survey firm True North Research.

A parcel tax requires more than 65% voter approval, while bonds require 55%.

"Please put Measure K on the ballot," said Dave Arnold, a father of students at Fremont Elementary and Rosemont Middle School. "We need to address money for our local schools; we need money to keep teachers here; we need money to keep class size reduction; we need money to keep our schools competitive."

District officials have led community meetings about what a bond extension would mean for schools. At each meeting, district representatives have asked teachers, parents and other stakeholders to create a "wish list" of projects worthy of taxpayer funding.

New classrooms at Keppel Elementary School was one idea from parents there, said Ted Rowlands, a father of two. At Mann Elementary School, special-education teacher Traci Taylor said staff preferred laptops for certain instruction and wireless Internet throughout the campus.

"We are still in need of many things that would help our students continue their success," she said.

The deadline to qualify measures for the April election is early January, officials said.

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