Bond measure making the grade

first_img AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREWalnut’s Malik Khouzam voted Southern California Boys Athlete of the Week “I’m very encouraged. You don’t do a final count until it’s done, but I think it indicates the strength of people wanting to say we want our kids to have more seats,” Romer said. “It says, We see progress, we see we’re three-fourths done, let’s finish the job.” The $3.985 billion construction bond measure – the fourth and largest put before Los Angeles voters – would allow the 727,000-student district to complete its $14 billion construction program, which includes the construction of 160 schools and the renovation of hundreds more by 2012. District officials say the measure is key to easing overcrowding, improving an alarming dropout rate and narrowing the achievement gap between white and Latino and African-American students. Roughly $1.6 billion would go to building 25 schools – including five in the San Fernando Valley. District officials say the additional seats would allow them to end year-round classes and cap middle school enrollment at 2,000 students. The improvements at the district come at a cost to Los Angeles property owners, whose school portion of the property tax is greater than in any other California city, said Jon Coupal, president of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayer Association. The owner of a home with an assessed value of $500,000 would pay $720 annually by 2009 compared with $425 now – or roughly the average yearly premium for homeowner’s insurance. The property tax assessment for just the previous three bond measures will total about $113 next year per $100,000 of assessed valuation, district officials project. That is expected to increase to $138 in 2009. Over its 25-year life, the Measure Y bond measure would add an average of about $27 annually per $100,000 assessed value of a home, said Glenn Gritzner, special assistant to the superintendent. “Obviously, if it passes, we’re disappointed. We believe that education is still a top priority, however this is the fourth bond measure that LAUSD has proposed and we do not believe they have adequately demonstrated efficient use of taxpayer dollars on education,” said Coupal, who along with the Sherman Oaks Homeowners Association and the United Organization of Taxpayers, is a key opponent of the measure. “If it passes, then this would be a massive new property tax on the homeowners of Los Angeles,” he said. Critics of the bond measure said enrollment is on a decline at the district and that officials had not spent all the money from the previous three measures. District voters have already approved three construction bond measures since 1997 totaling $9.6 billion: $3.87 billion in 2004, $3.35 billion in 2002 and $2.4 billion in 1997. Since 2002, the district has completed 23,423 new classroom seats, more than 10,000 repair projects, and 24 schools. The district is also on track to open 32 additional schools in the 2005-06 school year. But getting the bond measure on the ballot seemed to be a hard sell, with the school board finally agreeing in late July to put it on the ballot. With about three months to raise funds, the campaign compiled about $1.2 million with an additional $175,000 in pledges, Gritzner said – short of the approximately $2 million each of the three previous bond measures raised. Naush Boghossian, (818) 713-3722 [email protected] 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! Los Angeles Unified took a strong lead Tuesday night in its ambitious effort to win passage of its fourth bond measure in eight years, a nearly $4 billion measure that would provide for new schools, modernization of old ones as well as basic maintenance and other needs. If approved by 55 percent of the voters, Measure Y would enable the nation’s second-largest school district to build 25 more schools and renovate hundreds more and put an end to year-round classes and crosstown busing. Combined with the three previously approved bond measures, Measure Y would increase property taxes to fund public schools by about 70 percent over the next four years. Superintendent Roy Romer said the early support appeared to counter opponents’ criticism that the district had been inefficient in spending the $9.6 billion from the previous three bonds and shouldn’t be trusted again. last_img read more