OCEANSIDE — Continuing decades of school upgrades, the Oceanside Unified school board voted unanimously August 4 to put a new $160 million bond measure on November’s ballot.
Property owners would pay an estimated total of $272 million, including debt service, through an additional property tax of $30 per $100,000 of assessed home value over three decades.
The bond measure — Measure W — would in part finance facilities and equipment for “science, technology, engineering, arts, math [STEAM] instruction,” according to the district’s bond project list. Investments would include “classrooms, labs and specialized facilities,” as well as “instructional technology,” such as “for distance learning.”
Additionally, the new debt would address more standard, meat-and-potatoes categories of capital maintenance, such as roofs, plumbing, HVAC, electrical systems, “sanitation” and “mechanical and structural elements of buildings.”
“We need this bond like no other. We needed it yesterday,” school board trustee Stacy Begin said at the board’s August 4 meeting. “We have many facilities that … need to be upgraded and repaired, and also ‘powering up’ our schools to provide the technology … just to be competitive with our other school districts that are along the coast.”
“Being native to technology, for our children, is essential. It should be integrated into their daily work at schools,” school board trustee Eric Joyce said. “That’s how you prepare kids for the jobs that aren’t even created yet.”
The new $160 million measure would follow immediately on the heels of school modernization bonds worth $195 million, which voters authorized through Proposition H in 2008. The school board has tapped nearly all its Proposition H capacity through six issuances since 2009 — the most recent of which was approved in July.
Proposition H in turn followed an earlier $125 million bond measure, Proposition G, which voters authorized in 2000 to build three new schools and upgrade six others.
“Each bond measure may not meet the needs of all schools,” district spokesman Matthew Jennings told The Coast News. “We set prioritization based on the age of our facilities. While Prop H funds helped to fully modernize seven school sites, including the performing arts center at Oceanside High School, we still have additional school sites and aging facilities that are yet to be modernized.”
At least 55% of Oceanside voters must approve the new measure in order for it to pass.
Oceanside Unified operates 22 schools serving about 19,000 students, down from about 21,000 earlier this decade, according to the Ed-Data Education Partnership, a data provider.
School board trustees didn’t respond to a request for comment.