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.