Eleven construction school bond propositions are on the Nov. 6 General Election ballot -- the most in the last 10 years.
It will be up to voters in these districts to decide if they want their tax dollars to repair and modernize existing K-12 campuses and colleges.
Voters in the North County will be deciding on three of the 11 school construction bond measures in Propositions AA (San Dieguito Union High School District), CC (Del Mar Union School District) and EE (Mira Costa Community College District) -- which all total more than $1.02 billion.
Proposition AA calls for improving the San Dieguito school district’s 10 schools with new classroom buildings, science labs and libraries. The money would also pay for career training and instruction in math, science and technology with new equipment and facilities. This $449 million bond program would also pay for a new middle school in the Pacific Highlands Ranch community off state Highway 56.
Residents in the San Dieguito Union High School District would have to pay an additional 2.5 cents per every $100 of assessed property value if Proposition AA passes to pay back the school construction bonds.
Those against Proposition AA believe the bond money cannot be spent efficiently since the state sets a cap of how much money a school district can borrow each year. They say that because of this, San Dieguito schools will always be stuck with out-of-date technology and amenities long before more improvement money can be borrowed again. San Dieguito Union High School District board member John Salazar, along with board members from the Encinitas and Cardiff taxpayers associations oppose Proposition AA.
Those in favor of this bond measure say the money is needed to repair schools that lack modern classrooms, libraries and science or computer labs. The district said aging schools suffer from leaky roofs, worn-out floors, rusty plumbing, faulty and inadequate electrical, safety and communications systems. Also, some schools don't meet modern seismic standards; others still have hazardous asbestos and lead to remove.
Proposition AA is supported by the San Diego County Taxpayers Association. The Friends of San Dieguito Schools has collected $203,617 in campaign contributions for the Yes on AA campaign as of Oct. 20. Those who have donated include the vice president at Qualcomm (Nasdaq: QCOM), contractors and architects, and staff from the district, including the superintendent.
No campaign contributions against Proposition AA have been reported to the San Diego County Registrar of Voters Office.
The second school construction bond measure in North County is Proposition CC, which calls for $76.8 million in modernization work at the Del Mar Union School District.
The money would fix leaky roofs and worn-out floors; improve instructional technology and computer systems; provide accessible classrooms for students with disabilities; and upgrade aging classrooms, libraries and school buildings.
An independent oversight committee would be assembled for this bond program.
Residents in the Del Mar Union School District would pay $8.44 per every $100,000 of assessed property value to pay back the school bonds.
Supporters of Proposition CC say this tax is needed because there is no state funding available to help improve the aging school district. They say new facilities and equipment is needed to keep up with 21st century technology. Supporters of Proposition CC include a board trustee from the Del Mar Union School District, a retired teacher from Del Mar and some small business owners.
As of Oct. 20, $32,400 has been received in contributions for the "Yes on CC" campaign. Some of the donors to the “Quality Schools for Del Mar” campaign include a principal with the Del Mar Union School District and an architect at San Diego-based Moon Mayoras Architects.
Opponents of Proposition CC say they don’t like that long-term financing is being used to pay for technology such as computers that have a life span of five to seven years. Opponents include the past president of the North San Diego County Association of Realtors, some business owners and the co-founder of Stop Taxing Us.
The third bond measure in the North County goes to the MiraCosta Community College District.
Proposition EE asks for voters to allow MiraCosta to sell $497 million in construction bonds to pay for new classroom buildings and modernize every structure that does not get demolished. Proposition EE also calls for expanding veteran support facilities, outdoor gathering areas, student centers and infrastructure work.
MiraCosta has three campuses in Oceanside, including one in the San Elijo neighborhood and another in downtown Oceanside.
“Oceanside is getting most of the work of the three campuses we have,” said Jim Austin, vice president of business and administration services for MiraCosta. Austin added that the work would be awarded in small to medium-sized construction and design packages, and that the bond program would be built out over a 10-year period.
Opponents of Proposition EE don’t like the way the bond measure is written because it would allow future district boards to possibly delay payment on borrowed bond money and thus pay a higher interest for new facilities sooner. Those against this proposition include a San Dieguito Union High School District board member, the president of the Cardiff Taxpayers Association and the past president of the Encinitas Taxpayers Association.
Supporters of Proposition EE say MiraCosta College has not passed a locally funded measure to improve district facilities in more than 50 years and that now is the time to do so, as there is no funding coming from Sacramento and because new amenities are needed for education and job training now more than ever.
Members the League of Women Voters of North County San Diego, members of the Carlsbad Chamber of Commerce and some retired military veterans support Proposition EE.
Since Oct. 20, $347,230 has been accounted for in campaign contributions by the San Diego Registrar of Voters for the “Yes on EE” campaign. Donors include the vice president of Mira Costa College, Berg Electric and HMC Architects.
Each of these three propositions must pass by 55 percent. Taxpayers would be assessed for these bond measures beginning in 2013 if passed.
The final maturity date of any bond would be no later than 25 years or 40 years after the date the bonds are issued, according to state law.