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Poway School District Hopes To Repair Classrooms And Reputation With $448 Million Bond

Rancho Bernardo High School on Jan. 8, 2019.

Photo by Joe Hong

Above: Rancho Bernardo High School on Jan. 8, 2019.

Poway Unified School District is urging residents to approve Measure P, a $448 million bond on the March ballot to renovate aging facilities.

The ballot measure comes more than 10 years after the district passed a $105 million bond that led to property owners owing nearly a $1 billion after the district delayed repayment while accruing interest. In working to pass the new bond, Poway’s new leadership is hoping a detailed plan will help repair both aging buildings and regain the trust of Poway residents.

Listen to this story by Joe Hong.

“It’s a whole new leadership team,” said District Superintendent Marian Kim Phelps. “In the time that Poway Unified hasn’t gone for a bond in the last decade, other school districts have passed three multi-million, multi-billion dollar bonds.”

RELATED: San Diego County Treasurer Calls For School Bond Reform

The bond, which passed in 2008, was borrowed as a capital appreciation bond, which delayed repayment while the district accrued interest. The final bill came out to about $980 million by 2051.

Despite Poway Unified’s history, the San Diego County Taxpayers Association endorsed the new bond measure “with trepidation,” based on the thoroughness of the district’s plan as well as its “managerial acumen,” said Association President Haney Hong.

The tax would be about $34 for every $100,000 of a property’s assessed value. Hong cautioned homeowners to consider these costs before casting their vote.

Rancho Bernardo High School’s Principal David LeMaster declined to comment on whether he endorsed the bond measure, but he said some of the portable buildings have become safety hazards. Classrooms that were once science labs have been vacated and are now being used as storage closets.

“My job is to make sure that our students are receiving the best educational opportunities, and for me to do that I really need to have facilities that meet those particular needs," he said.

Editors Note: A previous version of this story incorrectly stated that the bond measure would increase property taxes by about $40 per $100,000 of assessed property value. The tax increase would be $34 per $100,000 of assessed property value.

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Photo of Joe Hong

Joe Hong
Education Reporter

opening quote marksclosing quote marksAs an education reporter, I'm always looking for stories about learning. My favorite education stories put a student's face on bigger policy issues. I regularly sift through enrollment data, test scores and school budgets, but telling student-centered stories is my top priority.

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