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San Diego Unified Pursuing $3.5 Billion Bond Measure For November

The San Diego Unified School District Board of Education building is shown in...

Photo by Milan Kovacevic

Above: The San Diego Unified School District Board of Education building is shown in this photo, Sept. 15, 2017.

A recent lead scare and heightened anxiety around school safety has San Diego Unified looking to make improvements to its schools — and find the money to do it.

Its board is considering placing a $3.5 billion bond measure on the November ballot. That’s on top of two other bonds voters approved in 2008 and 2012.

“In would be incorrect for folks to think the two bonds were a failure. They’re absolutely not,” district spokesman Samer Naji said. “But there is still so much more need. There are so many campuses and each one of them has five, maybe 10, buildings on them. Every one of those buildings needs work.”

RELATED: District, Union-Backed Proposal On School Board Elections Inching Toward The Ballot

The district says all $4.9 billion of the previous bonds has been spent or allocated. Construction is complete on 140 projects and pending on 46, according to district documents. More than 100 are in the design and bid process.

Naji said, despite progress, district buildings have continued to deteriorate. Their average age is 48 years old.

“Imagine your house at 48 years old, how much work it requires,” he said. “You know, one bond might address the roof, but your refrigerator might break tomorrow.”

The district would spend more than $350 million of the proposed bond on health and safety upgrades, including replacing aging plumbing the district found was leaching lead into the drinking water at some schools. It would also abate asbestos and mold, and install security features to address concerns following the school shooting in Parkland, Florida.

The bulk of the money would go toward repairing and modernizing neighborhood schools so they’re attractive to nearby families. That means nixing portable classrooms for permanent ones, installing new playfields and adding arts and career technical facilities.

A list of proposed projects by school is available here.

The board is expected to hear a final reading of the bond proposal July 10, before approving it for the November ballot. If approved, homeowners would pay six cents per $100 of their home’s assessed value.

Both of the previous bonds passed with more than 60 percent of the vote — well above the 55 percent needed to pass.

The measure would come as the district continues to spend down two previous bonds totaling $4.9 billion.

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