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Politics

Proposition 13 Would Issue $15 Billion In Bonds For School Renovations

Construction at Hoover High School on El Cajon Boulevard, Jan. 21, 2020.
Matthew Bowler
Construction at Hoover High School on El Cajon Boulevard, Jan. 21, 2020.
Proposition 13 Would Issue $15 Billion In Bonds For School Renovations
Listen to this story by Joe Hong.

The broadcast journalism studio at Hoover High School with its three cameras, control panels and an editing room offers students a hands-on learning experience thanks to a state-matched bond from 2014.

San Diego Unified School District has received more than $87 million in state bonds in the past decade, and more could be on its way if Proposition 13 passes in March. The $15 billion statewide bond would fund facility improvements for schools and colleges across the state, prioritizing the neediest schools with the most serious safety concerns.

But these benefits come at a cost for taxpayers. A “yes” vote on Prop. 13 would mean improved school facilities but could also mean higher property taxes for those districts.

VIDEO: California To Vote On $15 Billion School Bond Measure

“Both the state government and the local school districts are responsible for providing education facilities, and as you can imagine there are a lot of facilities across the state that over time receive wear and tear,” said Lee Dulgeroff, the chief of construction and planning for San Diego Unified School District.

As a district employee, he declined to state a position on the bond measure but said the state support has provided career and technical education for students.

According to the nonpartisan Legislative Analysts Office, the state is already making payments on about $80 billion in bonds. The LAO estimates that the new bond would end up costing taxpayers $26 billion, $11 billion of which would be interest.

If passed, Proposition 13 would require regular audits to ensure that construction projects using state bond money are going according to plan. Local experts say the funding comes with heightened responsibility.

“Whatever matching grants a school district might get from this bill, we will look at that district’s program and we want make sure that the taxpayer gets the performance that we deserve,” said Haney Hong, president of the San Diego County Taxpayers Association, which takes positions on local bonds.

Nick Marinovich, the chairman of the Sweetwater Union School District’s Bond Oversight Committee, says he would vote for the measure with reservations. If passed, the state would prioritize districts that hire unionized labor. According to Marinovich, this could raise costs for local districts.

“It’s hard to really differentiate so far what is the true added cost of a union-only contract, but it’s something that could be studied,” Marinovich said. “It really hasn’t been studied extensively.”

Propositions require more than 50 percent of the vote to pass.

San Diego’s homeless provider has big plans to create more than 400 units of affordable housing in a new downtown highrise. Plus, Californians are being asked to vote on another Prop 13. This year’s ballot measure is a 15 billion dollar school bond measure. And students at Hoover High School learned how to prepare for a forum where they can grill candidates for mayor on the issues they see in their community.

Corrected:
Correction: This story has been edited to reflect a spelling error of higher to hire.