Four years ago, 68.71 percent of city of San Diego voters chose to increase their property taxes with the passing of the $2.1 billion general obligation bond measure Proposition S.
This gave the San Diego Unified School District the authorization to issue and sell bonds to repair, renovate and revitalize its schools.
Now four years later, the district again is asking San Diego residents to vote on a $2.8 billion construction bond measure, which would pay for school improvements, in the form of Proposition Z.
“It’s basically an investment on the repairs and renovations needed for our schools that have an average building age of 43 years,” said Lee Dulgeroff, executive director of facilities planning and construction for the San Diego Unified School District.
If Proposition Z receives more than the 55 percent of votes needed to pass, it would allow the district to repair and renovate all of its school.
Improvements would include new buildings for classrooms, science labs and career technical education; repairs to existing facilities and structures to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act requirements; and seismic retrofits, and other building codes and environmental requirements, to comply with new standards.
Proposition Z funding would also be used to replace textbooks with tablet computers; purchase solar panels to install on school rooftops; and install wiring and new infrastructure for new technology such as smart whiteboards.
The school district estimates it will take 15 years to complete the Proposition Z construction bond program.
The bond money loaned would be paid back as a tax of 6 cents per every $100 of assessed property value per year.
This would include home owners and commercial land owners, and the tax would be on top of what they already pay in yearly property taxes. Interest would also be paid back on the bonds.
There would also be a citizen’s oversight committee assembled to monitor bond expenditures and independent financial audits would be done annually.
Critics opposed to Proposition Z say they would like the district to complete construction related to Proposition S first, before seeing another bond program like this on the ballot.
“We think they should finish the projects from the 2008 bond measure before asking for more money,” said Lani Lutar, president and CEO of San Diego County Taxpayers Association.
Dulgeroff said Proposition Z is different in the sense that it will focus more on repairs like plumbing and roofing, and installing sustainable amenities such as solar panels and LED lights.
“We are looking at installing things that would save money in operational cost,” Dulgeroff said.
He also said that Propositions Z is different from the 2008 Proposition S construction bond measure in the sense that there “should” be more work on a yearly basis.
“Proposition Z work would be over a 15-year period, where as on Proposition S we are limited in work capacity because we have to spread it out over 20 years,” Dulgeroff said.
Approximately $404.83 million of the $2.1 billion Proposition S construction school bond measure has been spent.
The San Diego County Taxpayers Association also believes that, with three state tax measures on the ballot next month (Propositions 30, 38 and 39), it’s too much to ask San Diego voters to tax themselves again for a school district that already is getting their money.
Proposition 30, 38 and 39 qualified for next month’s ballot on June 20. San Diego Unified Board of Education started having open discussion about a new bond measure in February and unanimously approved to place the bond measure on November’s ballot on July 24.
Proposition Z is the largest construction school bond measure of the 11 on next month's ballot.
As of Sept. 30, the last time the San Diego County Register of Voters released campaign finance disclosure reports, $266,075 has been contributed to the Yes on Proposition Z campaign.
Donors range from construction and architectural firms like CSDA Architects and Gafcon Inc. to political action committees and individuals like Irwin Jacobs.
Much less -- $17,000 -- has been spent on the No on Proposition Z campaign.
The San Diego County Apartment Association Political Action Committee has contributed $5,000; the San Diego County Taxpayers Association Political Action Committee has given $2,000; and R.B. Woolley Jr., of La Jolla, has donated $10,000.