Schools waiting for bond OK

October 09, 2002 11:00 pm

By Kent Gray

Triplicate staff writer

School administrators say a bond measure on the November ballot could bring $11 million to Del Norte County schools.

The Kindergarten-University Public Education Facilities Bond Act of 2002 is a $13.05 billion general obligation bond for public education facilities. If approved, Proposition 47 will fund construction of new classrooms, modernization of existing school facilities, seismic upgrades and high-tech equipment installations.

Assistant Superintendent Rodney Jahn, of the Del Norte County Unified School District, said state funding will offset new and existing school renovation and construction in the county.

"Five of Del Norte's schools will be modernized over the next two years with improvements including relacing old window systems, new flooring, painting (and) updating of heating systems ..." said Jahn. "The state will pay for 80 percent of these projects while the district has used its School Impact Mitigation Fees to pay for architect's fees and other engineering costs for its 20-percent share."

The school district has already spent the bulk of its matching funds for these projects, according to Jahn, because the projects have been approved by the state. The district has been on a state "unfunded list" until such funds become available. If Proposition 47 fails at the polls, the district will return to the "unfunded list" until the next bond measure appears before the voters.

Of the five Del Norte schools, Del Norte High School is in line to receive $1.9 million; Joe Hamilton, $1 million; Crescent Elk, $808,000; Sunset, $560,360 and Margaret Keating, $352,829.

New construction projects for Del Norte High and Sunset would be 50-percent funded by Proposition 47, totaling $676,104, according to Jahn.

The final county project planned would receive almost 100 percent of its funding from the state proposition.

"The new Alternative Education Center to be built on Harding Avenue and will include a new instructional resource center, computer lab, TV studio, and classrooms" would receive 96.47 percent state funding, Jahn said. This would total $5.4 million.

"The property purchased as part of the project included sufficient space for a new soccer field, a practice football field, area for a future building and the house that was remodeled as the Two Trees Healthy Start Center," Jahn said.

According to the University of California, the breakdown of Proposition 47 money statewide would be as follows: $11.4 billion for grades kindergarten through 12. This would be divided into $4.8 billion for new construction and modernization projects, $3.45 billion for new school construction related to growth, $1.4 billion for modernization of older schools, $1.7 billion for critically overcrowded schools and $50 million for joint-use facilities.

For higher education, $1.65 billion would be the total allotment. This would break down as $495.9 million for the California State University, $408.2 million for the University of California and $745.9 million for the California Community Colleges.

Opponents of Proposition 47 include the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, the National Tax Limitation Committee and State Senator William "Pete" Knight. These opponents argue that California already has a "three" credit rating, the lowest among states, and the state must be careful about taking on new debt. They also claim 24 percent of new construction funds would end up with the Los Angeles County Unified School District, despite the district only having 12 percent of state enrollment.

Proponents include the California Parents Teachers Association, the California Teachers Association, the League of Women Voters and the California Taxpayers Association. These groups claim the money is sorely needed to ease school overcrowding. They have also countered the argument about the Los Angeles school district receiving more funding, claiming the district is the most overcrowded.