New bond measure on ballot

first_img AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORECasino Insider: Here’s a look at San Manuel’s new high limit rooms, Asian restaurant Palmdale and Lancaster school districts also had been considering pursuing bond elections in June, but Palmdale trustees decided Tuesday not to do so at this time, and Lancaster school administrators are advising against it. Lancaster and Palmdale officials both cited concern over potentially jeopardizing their eligibility for state hardship funding to pay for building schools. Palmdale Deputy Superintendent Lori Ordway-Peck said board members felt that seeking a bond might compromise the district’s ability to qualify for hardship funding. “If we have money, if we were to successfully go for a bond, the state would look on that as the ability to build schools,” Ordway-Peck said. With no money, the state would be more willing to give the district hardship funds, which provides a 100 percent grant, though it doesn’t cover the entire cost of building a school, as opposed to a 50 percent state match for local bond funds, Ordway-Peck said. LANCASTER – Westside Union School District will ask voters in June to approve a $55 million bond measure to build new elementary and middle schools and improve existing campuses. The bond proposal will be on the same ballot as a $177 million bond measure for the Antelope Valley Union High School District to build new two new high schools. “The high school district is moving forward on theirs. I don’t know if that will hurt us,” Westside trustee Gwen Farrell said. “It’s really tough. The state says this is what you have to do to build schools. You find yourself in a crunch with elementary and high school districts. We could complement each other, we could hurt each other.” The Westside board voted unanimously at Tuesday’s meeting to place the bond measure on the June 6 ballot for voters in west Palmdale, west Lancaster, Quartz Hill, Leona Valley and Antelope Acres. The bond measure, if approved, would cost property owners about $27 per $100,000 assessed valuation annually. “We got a hardship application in for two elementary schools. We don’t want to jeopardize that,” Lancaster Superintendent Steve Gocke said. “If you have other money, then you lose hardship. Hardship money is pretty much a sure thing; a bond isn’t.” Westside will pursue passage of its bond under Proposition 39, which California voters approved in 2000 to allow school construction bonds under certain conditions to pass with a 55 percent majority vote, rather than two-thirds of the vote. Westside has come up with a wish list of about 16 projects that would cost about $200 million. A district oversight committee will prioritize the list to determine which projects will be tackled first. “The top priority would be building schools,” Farrell said. On the proposed list are two elementary schools to be located probably northwest of Quartz Hill where many homes are being built; two elementary campuses for the Del Sur Ranch master-plan community and conversion of Del Sur School into a middle school; three elementary schools for the Anaverde master-plan community in southwest Palmdale; and two elementary and one middle school for the Ritter Ranch master-plan community west of Anaverde. The list also includes improving technology and student access to computers; modernizing Cottonwood, Quartz Hill, and Rancho Vista schools; expanding Leona Valley School; upgrading the running track at Joe Walker Middle School; and refurbishing the gym at Hillview Middle School. “It’s the only source we have to build schools. Under current law, even with the state funds that we get, it is not 50-50 match anymore. It’s more like 30 to 40 percent match. We need local bonds, developer fees and state funding,” Farrell said. Westside estimates soaring construction costs will result in new elementary schools costing $18 million to $20 million each. By contrast, Esperanza School, which opened in August 2003, cost about $12 million to build. A Westside survey showed that about 60 percent of voters would support paying an annual tax of $27 to help pay for school construction. The survey showed that support declined to 55 percent when the assessment was increased to $30. Westside district voters in June 1989 narrowly approved an $8.5 million bond measure, passed with 23 votes more than the minimum two-thirds then necessary. In 1998, district voters approved extending the school construction tax to 2026 to raise $14.7 million. The current bond tax started at $30 per $100,000 assessed value but has since dropped to about $18 because there are more homes and higher average values, district officials said. The total residential and commercial assessed valuation in the district is about $5 billion. To help finance school construction, Westside has been forming special tax districts, which allow developers to pass on to homeowners school-building fees rather than pay them before houses are built. Karen Maeshiro, (661) 267-5744 [email protected] 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img

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