Glendale Unified school board members Mary Boger and Nayiri Nahabedian won reelection on Tuesday — and got a $270-million present.
The money came in the form of Measure S, which voters approved on Tuesday by a landslide, ensuring that the district will have at least some guaranteed source of income as the state looks to close a multi-billion dollar budget gap.
Measure S garnered 69.5% of the vote, well above the 55% needed to pass.
The school board incumbents fought off challenges from a crowded field of eight candidates, with Boger largely bypassing personal campaigning in order to focus her attention on the bond.
Nayiri took 24% of the vote, to Boger’s 20.3%, according to the city clerk’s office, although thousands in uncounted ballots, including provisionals and mail-ins handed in at the polls, were left to be counted.
As she watched the voter returns come in, Boger said it was impossible to decide which was sweeter, her own success or that of Measure S.
“I love my job,” Boger said, her voice cracking with emotion. “Volunteering in this community has turned out to be my life’s work. I am actually looking forward to establishing the oversight committee for Measure S. We have come in contact with some amazing people.”
Rounding out the top four vote getters was accountant Vahik Satoorian and business executive Todd Hunt, who also failed in his bid for school board in 2007.
Boger and Nahabedian each earned themselves another four-year term on a board that is now responsible for hundreds of millions of dollars that district officials say will help catapult Glendale schools into the 21st century.
Measure S will build on Measure K — a $186-million school bond passed by Glendale voters in 1997 that paid for major construction projects, such as the refurbishment of Clark Magnet High School. The repayment of Measure S will be phased in around 2017, just as Measure K is paid off. Local property taxes will remain even, about $46 per $100,000 of assessed value through 2050, according to the district.
Potential bond-funded projects presented at past school board meetings include implementing health and safety improvements to comply with current standards, including removing hazardous materials, upgrading automatic fire alarms and communication and security systems. The money is also likely to be used to repair walls, roofs and floor coverings, as well as updating science, career and technical labs.
The Measure S campaign grew contentious at times. The bond won the endorsement of dozens of prominent public figures and business organizations. But the Glendale Teachers Assn. officially opposed Measure S after failing to obtain the district’s commitment to use $20 million in General Fund dollars freed up by the bond to maintain class sizes.
Numerous Glendale teachers still supported Measure S with their time and money despite the union’s official stance, noted Yes on S campaign co-chair Harry Hull.
“This money will allow [district officials] to upgrade technology, improve facilities, and more importantly, gives them breathing room to feel like they can operate in light of the really horrible state budget crunch that they are under,” Hull said.
The school board race was dominated by Glendale Unified budget issues, most notably a projected $8.8-million to $20.3-million shortfall for the coming fiscal year.
New city-wide fundraising rules and a stagnant economy made for a tepid fundraising environment. Contributions fell well below those of previous races, and no single candidate could match the spending power of the teachers union, which invested more than $40,000 promoting union-endorsed Nahabedian and Gunnell.
Union officials also took aim at Boger, sending out campaign mailers criticizing her voting record.
Hunt, who ran unsuccessfully in 2007, said the second loss was disappointing, but added that the race for school board is much bigger than any single candidate.
“To me, this is about our children,” Hunt said. “As a parent, you will do anything to help your kids.”