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SCV districts eyeing possible state bond

Posted: August 11, 2014 2:00 a.m.
Updated: August 11, 2014 2:00 a.m.

Local school districts are keeping an eye on a push to put a state school bond on the November ballot, according to officials.
Assembly Bill 2235 would put a school facilities bond up for a vote in the upcoming Nov. 4 election.

“The quality of school facilities makes a difference,” Assemblywoman Joan Buchanan, D-Alamo, one of the bill’s sponsors, said in a statement. “Research demonstrates that clean air, natural light, regulated temperatures and quiet, safe learning environments can dramatically boost academic and social outcomes for children.”

A bond on the state level, proponents say, would help districts statewide, including those that have already passed local bond measures.

This is of particular note in the Santa Clarita Valley, where almost every school district has successfully passed a bond since 2008.

“It will provide matching funds, which means that the dollars that our local individuals vote for, you really end up being able to leverage those dollars into something larger,” said Saugus Union School District Superintendent Joan Lucid of a state school bond.

Board members in the Saugus district, which last passed a bond measure in 2002, voted last week to put a proposed $148 million bond on the November ballot.

A bond measure would provide much-needed upgrades to the district’s aging schools and technology resources, Lucid said.

“We haven’t had a bond in quite some time, and it’s important that we maintain our public facilities,” she said.

Castaic Union School District Superintendent Jim Gibson said when voters passed the $51 million Measure QS in 2012, it was expected that the district would receive additional state funds as well.

“Measure QS had very specific proposals and development ideas that were beyond what the state is supposed to supply,” he said. “And it was developed with the idea in mind that we would get state money as well.”

In a statement released last week, Newhall School District Superintendent Marc Winger and district board President Brian Walters said a state bond would also be beneficial. Voters in the Newhall district passed the $60 million Measure E bond in 2011.

“Unfortunately, the state hasn’t passed a statewide bond since 2006, and the program funds are now depleted,” the statement reads. “Unless a new statewide school bond measure is approved, many communities like ours are going to be restricted to the minimum completion of projects we envisioned for our students.”

Other recent local bond measures include the $300 million Measure SA for William S. Hart Union High School District, which was passed in 2008, and the $72 million Measure CK for Sulphur Springs School District, which was passed in 2012.

AB 2235 has already passed the state Assembly and is now in the Senate.

“The State Allocation Board spent a year evaluating the effectiveness of the current program and the need for a bond,” said Assemblyman Curt Hagman, R-Chino Hills, in a statement. “We concluded that the program is effective and should be continued.

“It is irresponsible for the state to eliminate the program when schools are working hard to update curriculum and integrate technology and the housing market is beginning to turn around and lead our economic recovery,” he continued.
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