Glendale district mulls bond measure

School safety improvements, technology upgrades and science-lab renovations topped a wish-list of projects released this week by the Glendale Unified School District. The projects would be tackled if voters approve a potential $270-million bond measure being considered for April.

The bond revenue would not be spent on administrator or teacher salaries, said Eva Lueck, chief business and financial officer for the district, and would be protected from state raids on school funding.

"We are required to have an independent citizens oversight committee to ensure that the funds are spent as promised," Lueck said.

District officials are debating whether to place the $270-million school bond measure before voters on April 5. Glendale Unified school board members will vote on whether to go forward with the measure on Dec. 14.

If a bond measure goes on a ballot next spring, residents of the La Cañada Flintridge neighborhood known as the Sagebrush area, within the boundaries of the Glendale public school system, will be asked to vote on the matter, along with residents of La Crescenta, Montrose and Glendale.

If passed, the bond measure would build on the success of Measure K, a $186-million bond passed in 1997 that financed the construction of Cerritos, Columbus and Edison elementary schools, among other projects.

The new bond would be phased in around 2017 to coincide with the phasing out of Measure K. As such, property taxes related to the bond would remain steady — about $46 per $100,000 of assessed value — through 2050, according to the district.

Officials spent recent weeks gathering information and input from stakeholders on potential projects to generate the list of priorities, Glendale Unified Supt. Dick Sheehan said.

"We have been going around to the various school sites, speaking both to the school staffs as well as to the PTAs [and] some foundations," he said.

The bond project list includes implementing health and safety improvements required to comply with current standards, such as removing hazardous materials and upgrading automatic fire alarms and communication systems.

At Crescenta Valley High School, potential projects identified included a new security system and biology wing. In addition, district officials will also look into implementing solar power and sustainable technology at all of the sites, and improving pick-up and drop-off zones.

Other facility renovations would include replacing outdated electrical, sewer, water and gas systems, repairing walls, roofs, floor coverings and updating lights.

Bond dollars could also be used to upgrade science labs and career and technical labs at the district's middle and high schools, according to the project list.

If the bond measure goes on the spring ballot and it passes, the district will prioritize projects, with those having an immediate impact on instruction and that address safety and security being given top priority, Lueck said.

Bond dollars could also be used to attract additional matching funds, as was done with Measure K, school board President Greg Krikorian said. The district leveraged Measure K to attract an additional $193 million in federal and state funding.

School board member Nayiri Nahabedian questioned whether there were any drawbacks, to the district or to the community, in placing the bond measure on the April ballot.

Voters have already indicated in a recent survey commissioned by the school district that they would support the bond measure.

The community of Glendale was built around its high-caliber schools, said board member Mary Boger, and the new bond would preserve and bolster that tradition.

"I think my mind is made up," Boger said. "I feel I will support this board's calling for a bond."

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