Glendale Unified gets $270-million bond

Voters within the boundaries of the Glendale Unified School District — including residents of Glendale, La Crescenta and the “Sagebrush” neighborhood of western La Cañada Flintridge — Tuesday sent Glendale Unified school board members Mary Boger and Nayiri Nahabedian back to work bearing a $270-million check.

The money came in the form of Measure S, a school bond that was approved 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.

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, as Measure K is tapered off. 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, requiring the removal of hazardous materials and an upgrade to 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 to update 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 Association 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.

Incumbents Nahabedian and Boger fought off challenges from a crowded field of eight candidates. Nahabedian 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 member in 2007.

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