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political sign telling people to vote yes on measure q
The Escondido Union School District is asking voters to approve Measure Q, a $205 million bond measure that the district says would help fund much-needed repairs and renovations on its school's campuses. Photo by Will Fritz
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Escondido Union School District seeks Measure Q money to fund school repairs

ESCONDIDO — The Escondido Union School District is asking voters to approve more than $200 million in bonds to help pay for repair, renovation and modernization projects at schools in the district.

Measure Q, if approved by 55% of Escondido-area voters, would help pay to fix deteriorating roofs, plumbing and electrical systems, build new classrooms and buildings and improve campus security and safety, according to language on the San Diego County Registrar of Voters website.

The new measure comes six years after the approval of Proposition E, a similar ballot initiative that approved $182 million in bonds for Escondido Union School District.

Michael Taylor, assistant superintendent of business services for the school district, said many of the district’s schools are aging and have long-needed repairs.

The district conducted an assessment back in 2014, when the decision was made to put Proposition E on the ballot and found the district at that time had close to $340 million in repair needs.

“We realized we could not pass a bond in the city of Escondido with that amount, and we whittled it down to $182.1 million dollars for critical needs only,” Taylor said.

But the district’s repair needs have only increased since 2014 — Taylor said the Escondido Union School District now needs more than $700 million to fund school repairs.

“That’s due to labor, cost of materials and supplies going up,” he said. “The longer you wait to modernize a school, it’s not going to wait for you, it’s going to get worse over time.”

Taylor said the district hasn’t spent all of the Proposition E money yet, but given the increasing costs, it’s hoping that Measure Q can help them to pick up where they left off with Proposition E.

“We’ve come a long way in the last six years, but there’s still a long way to go,” Taylor said.

Four major modernization projects — at Central Elementary School, Orange Glen Elementary, School, Del Dios Academy of Arts and Sciences and Mission Middle School — can be completed with funds from Measure Q if it passes.

“With Prop. E, we were partially able to modernize those schools, but with Measure Q we can finish the modernization at those four schools,” Taylor said.

The Proposition E money was able to help with things like a new kindergarten building at Central and a new two-story building at Mission. But there are still many things the district is hoping to get done, such as replacing portable buildings at the campuses that have been in place for 10 to 15 years, Taylor said.

“Those temporary buildings became permanent very quickly,” he said.

The district also is planning to use funds from the new bond measure to convert L.R. Green Elementary School and Bear Valley Middle School into a single, K-8 campus, and has also carved out $25 million from the measure to fund smaller improvements at each school across the district.

“We want to make sure that there’s something else in the bond initiative for every site,” Taylor said.

Right now, the Escondido Union School District holds about $150 million in debt from both Proposition E and an earlier bond measure, Proposition K which passed in 2002.

The Proposition K debt is expected to be paid off by 2026, Taylor said.

According to the Registrar of Voters website, the bonds from Measure Q may be issued in several series and may mature in 40 years or less. The district can expect to pay back $408 million for the bonds, including principal and interest.

2 comments

Richard Michael February 29, 2020 at 8:08 am

Proposition 39 was an offer by the people. Follow the rules and you can win with 55% of voter support instead of 2/3rds.

The list of specific projects to be funded was “To ensure that before they vote, voters will be given a list of specific projects their bond money will be used for.” Notice that’s BEFORE they vote.

If the district wants flexibility, it can go for the 2/3rds vote bond (Proposition 46). The district wants to cheat by taking the benefit without having the requirement. Cheaters, what a great role for so-called educators.

When the rules are ignored and a district can change anything, oversight is a joke. Without a specific list, it’s just a blank check where anything will be allowed by a fake oversight committee.

The district is also cheating on the ballot.

Like every other school and college district in the state, the district is cheating on the ballot to win an election.

The districts are electioneering on the ballot using public moneys (Penal Code 424(a)(2)) with a ballot statement that is a not-so-thinly disguised sales pitch.

Elections Code 13119 (AB-195, effective Jan 2018) requires a statement that is in a very specific form (to prevent front-loading the statement with goodies and prohibit a self-serving title), not be an argument or reason for passage, impartial, and not likely to cause prejudice in its favor.

The districts are cheating to win an election. What a poor example to the students. Do you endorse cheaters?

This statement was written to test in the voter survey before the measure was ever written. No matter what the measure finally said, the statement did not change. This is the statement that the surveyed voters liked. All of the 120 school bond measures on the March 2020 ballot read eerily alike. It’s like the same person wrote them. In fact, there are a handful of C.A.S.H. (Coalition for Adequate School Housing) vendors that write and sell all the $80 billion or so local bond measures around the state every two years. So, yes, they are written by the same people, because they’ve discovered how to spin paper and ink into gold. They can literally print money. About 95% of the measures pass. This is their formula.

“Improve Quality Education in Escondido Measure. To repair deteriorating roofs, plumbing/electrical systems, remove asbestos, improve student safety/campus security; acquire, renovate, construct/equip classrooms, science labs, sites, school facilities/technology that support college/career readiness in math, science, engineering, technology/the arts; shall Escondido Union School District’s measure authorizing $205,000,000 in bonds at legal interest rates be approved, levying 3 cents/$100 assessed value ($12,000,000 annually) while bonds are outstanding, with citizen oversight, all money staying local?”

This is a sales pitch to vote yes.

13119 also requires disclosure of a duration. “while bonds are outstanding” is like saying nothing. The districts know exactly how long they expect to collect the tax. It’s printed in the tax rate statement in the voter information guide. It’s dishonest to prejudice voters who get past the sales pitch to avoid the disclosure requirement with meaningless tripe (lies).

For school and college districts, Education Code 15122 requires the maximum interest rate for bonds be printed on the ballot. Where is it? The district cheats with “at legal rates.” That tells the voter nothing. The maximum interest rate is 12%. Districts don’t want to let the voters know how expensive these bonds could be. Cheating, once again.

For Proposition 39 bonds, Education Code 15272 requires the following statement be printed on the ballot: “the board will appoint a citizens’ oversight committee and conduct annual independent audits to assure that funds are spent only on school and classroom improvements and for no other purposes.” Districts cheat by omitting this language. If they put it in, it would actually be false, because the measure goes way beyond “school and classroom improvements” and includes many “other purposes.” Cheating.

Nothing in the election code allows a title on the ballot for local measures. Grandiose, self-serving titles like this are out-right false. Cheating.

Once you start cheating, you may as well pull out all the stops.

If you believe cheaters shouldn’t prosper, then vote your values.

What’s the solution to cheaters who win an election and steal millions of dollars? Think Houston Astros. It’s called an election contest, which is available under the new law (AB-195).

Ray Carney February 27, 2020 at 6:59 pm

I voted NO.

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