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Prop. Z school bond measure hanging on to lead

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The largest school construction bond measure facing voters throughout the county, Proposition Z, is passing as election night counts continue, having received 57.9 percent of the vote so far with 38 percent of precincts reporting.

Proponents of the measure, which asked voters in the city of San Diego to approve $2.8 billion in general obligation bonds for school improvements — to be re-paid through an increase in local property taxes -- will undoubtedly hope the numbers hold.

In order to pass, the measure will have to receive at least 55 percent support from voters. If it does pass, voters would approve re-payment of the bonds through an increase in property taxes equal to $60 for every $100,000 in value. That would be in addition to the $66.70 per $100,000 in value approved by voters in 2008 with proposition S, a $2.1 billion bond measure that passed with more than 68 percent support.

Proposition S authorized the sale of bonds for the funding of repair, revitalization and renovation of schools in the city. Funds from the Proposition Z bond sales will, if approved, go toward new classroom buildings, science labs and career technical education facilities and repairs or retrofits to existing buildings needed to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act requirements, seismic retrofits guidelines and other building codes and environmental requirements. Some money would also fund the purchase of solar panels for school rooftops.

Inside classrooms, funding would go toward replacing textbooks with tablet computers and installing wiring and new infrastructure for new technology, such as smart whiteboards. San Diego Unified School District has estimated it will take 15 years to complete the Proposition Z construction bond program.

Prior to Election Day, Lani Lutar, president and CEO of the San Diego County Taxpayers Association, opposed Proposition Z, saying projects planned for through the 2008 measure should be completed before San Diego Unified School District asks for more money from voters. There is still nearly $1.7 billion left to spend in the Proposition S bond program.

But San Diego Unified has said it’s not as simple as that. The district has said Proposition S limited San Diego Unified in work capacity because it was written as a 20-year program, while Proposition Z’s 15-year program would allow for more yearly work aimed at projects reducing operational cost. The district has also differentiated the two by noting the type of work Proposition Z would go to, like plumbing and roofing projects, sustainable sustainable amenities like solar panels and LED lights.

Reports as of Sept. 30 showed the Yes on Z campaign raising more than $500,000 since the beginning of the year

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