Local school bond passes

Campus Times
March 5, 2004

by Gema Duarte
Special to the Campus Times
Melissa Lau
Editorial Director

On Tuesday, the city’s first ever proposition to increase property value and improve the education of local students, met approval from La Verne voters..

Bonita Unified School District Board of Education placed a General Obligation Bond, Proposition C, to pay for improvements at schools in the district.

Passage required support from two-thirds of voters, and developments will begin this summer in San Dimas and Bonita high schools.

“Even though it’s going to hit their (property owners) pockets, it is the best thing for the community,” said Robin Carder, chief proponent of the proposition. “By improving schools with capital improvements, it enhances property values.”

The final estimated cost of improvements is $88.9 million, with $29.4 million estimated to come from state facility funding for modernization and $3.1 million for new construction.

The bond will bring in $56.4 million to cover the rest of expenses, which will cost property owners about $44 per $100,000 of assessed value on an annual basis.

Voters and property owners like Daniel Dickson of La Verne would vote against the proposition if he did not have two teenagers still in the school system.

“I don’t want to pay more, if I don’t have to, but I still do,’’ said the 52-year old as he walked into Veterans Hall. “I would not put in more money to a system that I have no need for.”

Proposition C provides internal and external improvements such as automatic fire alarm systems, disabled access upgrades, plumbing, flooring, emergency lighting and restroom accessibility.

The last upgrades that the 14-school district made took place four years ago, when air conditioning was installed in selected schools.

Funding was tight, Carder said.

Although many of the schools have state-of-the-art computer systems, new wiring is needed, as well as new science labs in the high schools.

Officials said that to promote extracurricular activities, a new performing arts center is planned to be built at San Dimas High.
At the elementary schools, indoor cafeterias will replace the current outdoor eating area.

Now that the measure has passed, the district is required to organize a Citizen Oversight Committee to oversee the spending of the money coming from the bond.

The committee will include local residents, business owners, city officials and parents who have been an active part of the process, Carder said.

Bond money cannot be used in district salaries.

Money will strictly cover development for schools and annual audits are mandated.

Upgrades needed in all district schools were noticed by the school board in 2000 and was unanimously voted by the board last October to pursue the bond.

For Don Hauser, 57, owner of Coin Depot, the proposition is necessary for the future of the nation and the next generation.

“We all are poor, but it’s important to educate future generations,” said Hauser, who has also been a La Verne resident for 23 years. “It’s cheaper to educate than incarcerate them. Many who don’t find a way of living choose crime to survive.”