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Carlsbad Unified committee lobbies residents to pass Measure HH

CARLSBAD — In addition to the mayor, City Council and Carlsbad Unified School District board of trustees, residents will also be asked to decide the fate of a school bond.

Measure HH is a $265 million request from the district and its board to renovate schools, improve security, upgrade technology infrastructure and include solar energy production and storage, to name a few upgrades. The question must be approved by 55 percent of more of the voters on Nov. 6.

“The district went through a fairly lengthy review with every principal … to evaluate what every site needs,” said Carmen Rene, co-chair of the Friends of Carlsbad Schools 2018 committee. “Infrastructure around technology, sustainability … and looking at how we can go to solar so we are less dependent on buying energy.”

The district estimates, once solar panels are installed, it will save the district at least $1.5 million per year. The school district currently pays more than $2 million for power.

The board, district and principals, through its Long-Range Facilities Master Plan, identified dozens of projects throughout the district over the last year. Implementation of the bond money will come in four phases, and the most expensive are the elementary school upgrades, which are estimated at $136 million, Rene said.

Shauna Hurst, who also co-chairs the committee, and Rene said the biggest reason the district must go to the voters is because the money from the state does not cover renovations and upgrades. Those monies are used for operational costs and salaries.

As the two campaign for the bond, they said much of the response they’ve received has been positive and residents are in support by more than 55 percent, per Hurst’s and Rene’s straw polling. Some residents will not support the measure simply because they are against raising taxes, although Hurst said many those people she’s spoken with understand the importance of the bond.

The district also conducted two surveys over the past year with encouraging results.

“A lot of the schools in our district are aging,” Hurst said. “We need to improve our schools to meet the needs of the careers that are coming in the future. A lot of our schools were built when the internet didn’t exist.”

This is also the second bond in 12 years for the school district as voters approved Proposition P in 2006, which was for $198 million and much of the money was used to construct Sage Creek High School.

Hurst said the district will also call for the bonds in stages to avoid escalating interest costs. Also, the phases will be staggered with the more pressing projects in Phase 1 followed by others. In all, she said the timeline for all projects to be finished is by 2028.

“The district doesn’t have those kind of resources without going out for a bond,” Rene said.