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County voters pass 5 of 11 bond issues; thousands of votes still need to be counted

San Diego County voters approved more than $3.4 billion in school construction bonds in November’s general election that will go toward improving campuses and purchasing new equipment for students and faculty members.

Of the 11 ballot measures countywide, five passed, with almost every part of the county approving at least one except North County, as of Monday, Nov. 12. There are approximately 260,000 absentee and provisional ballots still to be counted.

The county’s largest school bond, Proposition Z, passed by 60.37 percent. City of San Diego voters authorized the San Diego Unified School District to sell $2.8 billion in bonds to pay for new technology equipment, improve current infrastructure and build new facilities.

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, authorizing San Diego Unified to sell bonds to repair, renovate and revitalize its schools.

Proposition Z carries the same project labor agreement that Proposition S did, in which any contractor working on a project that exceeds $1 million must follow the provisions of the Project Stabilization Agreement.

Both South Bay construction bond measures passed on Tuesday.

Proposition E, which passed by 67.16 percent, will allow the Chula Vista Elementary School District to issue $90 million of bonds to pay for repairs, renovations, new buildings and upgrades to classrooms and school facilities. The measure also calls for the purchase of new technology for students, upgrades to heating systems and energy cost-saving improvements. In all, 31 elementary schools will receive some sort of improvements.

Proposition Y (74.42 percent) will authorize the South Bay Union School District to sell $26 million in general obligation bonds to pay for elementary classroom and school renovations; safety improvements; computers and technology access; and roof, plumbing and heating and air-conditioning repairs at 13 campuses.

In the East County there were five propositions asking voters to pay additional taxes to pay for school improvements in November’s general election, but only two passed.

Proposition C, which passed by 57.01 percent, reauthorizes $88.4 million for the Cajon Valley Union School District from a 2008 bond measure. The district plans to renovate, repair and construct elementary classrooms and associated school facilities like gymnasiums, and purchase new computers and upgrade related technology equipment with this new bond money.

The largest construction bond measure in the East County also was approved by 57.01 percent. Proposition V will give the Grossmont-Cuyamaca Community College District $398 million to upgrade career training facilities for science, medical, public safety and other in-demand fields; create a Veterans Support Center on each campus; modernize technology in classrooms, libraries and science labs; and improve access for people with disabilities.

Proposition D for the Dehesa School District received just 52.82 percent approval for a $3 million bond measure; Proposition G for the Mountain Empire Unified School District picked up 44.5 percent for a $30.8 million bond measure; and Proposition R for the Ramona School District collected only 49.81 percent of the vote for a $66 million bond measure.

None of the three propositions in the North County received the required 55 percent approval to pass.

Proposition AA received 54.74 percent approval and would have allowed the San Dieguito Union High School District to sell $449 million in construction bonds for improvements to the district’s 10 schools and build a new middle school.

Proposition CC for the Del Mar Union School District got 53.41 percent support. This measure called for $76.8 million in bonds to modernize and repair schools and purchase computers and other related technology.

Proposition EE received just 54.07 percent approval for $497 million in bonds to improve existing facilities and new classroom buildings at MiraCosta Community College District.

Francisco Rodriguez, superintendent and president of MiraCosta Community College District, said he is still waiting for the official word from the San Diego County Registrar of Voters to admit defeat on Proposition EE.

“We are still cautiously optimistic that we will get the 1 percent needed from [absentee and provisional] ballots to put us over the top,” Rodriguez said.

He added that if the bond measure for MiraCosta does not pass once all the votes are official, it would be up to the school board to decide whether to place another school construction bond measure on a future ballot.

“We have not placed a bond measure on a ballot since 1961,” Rodriguez said.

The San Diego County Registrar of Voters said it plans to release the updated results from the absentee and provisional ballots by the end of each work day. The Registrar does not break down what areas of the county the absentee and provisional ballots come from.

The 11 school construction bonds on the ballot in the general election were the most in the last 15 years.

All of the bonds passed will be paid back via increased property taxes, with interest. Taxpayers would be assessed for these bond measures beginning in 2013 if passed. The final maturity date of any bond could be no later than 25 years or 40 years after the date the bonds are issued, according to state law.

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